Pre-Fieldwork Checklist for Applied Social Scientists

Here are some questions to ask yourself before you go out into the field to collect research data, whether qualitative or quantitative.

Physical tools

____ Have you returned all borrowed library resources? (…don’t get fines for recalled books!)

____ Have you gotten and tested recording tools for this data, as well as transferred sample data to your computer?

____ Do you have a means for physical backups in the field (external hard drive)?

Organizing data

____ What data are you collecting (text, GPS, images, photo, audio, ephemera?)

____ Have you created a system for organizing this data in physical or virtual files and folders?

____ Will you annotate files in the field (captions for photos, context for interviews) or later?

Data backups

____ Have you found out when and how often you will have internet access?

____ Have you automated or set up a plan for backing up data through secured connections?

____ Where will you back up secured data to (dropbox, drive, box)? 

____ What file formats are you using, and can they be imported into analysis software?

____ Who else will have access to your data (passwords, mail or emailed documents)? What if something happens to you?

Sensitive data

____ Do you have a system for anonymizing sensitive files in the field?

____ Have you received IRB approval (and thought about archiving or sharing data in the consent form?)

____ Do you have a plan for what information will be recorded in your fieldnotes, lab notebook, etc on contextual information, any challenges in research, and ongoing questions or concerns?

____ How will you collect and organize irreplaceable data (interview audio, ephemera)?

Need someone to walk through this with you before going into the field? Email researchdata@berkeley.edu to set up a consultation!