During my interviews with elite groups, I did not always draft formal questions, but I made sure that I was familiar with the topic so that I could comfortably develop a natural rapport with the respondents.
Interview times ranged from thirty minutes to up to two hours, and respondents commonly offered me some data sets to consult, which followed with some discussion.
As mentioned, I discovered that slum dwellers, after gaining their trust, provided a great deal of nuanced insight into my understanding of urban regeneration in Rwanda, which was very beneficial for my project.
Harvey (2011) has highlighted how field researchers must endeavour to earn the trust of their respondents to gain access to high quality data and looking at the results I garnered, I believe I was able to do this successfully.
Scholars such as Harvey (2011) have noted that this is the best approach for elite interviews because it allows flexibility and hence, maximises response rates.
Notably, scholars such as Aberbach and Rockman (2002), Hoffmann-Lange (1987) as well as Zuckerman (1972) have also shown that elites prefer to engage with open-ended questions so that they can articulate their views coherently.
While oftentimes the data collection process was extremely stressful, and sometimes precarious, I learned to be resilient in, and how to maintain focus on meeting my set objectives. Multiple mentoring relationships facilitate learning during fieldwork. Translation as a creative process: The power of the name. Peabody, R., Hammond, S., Torcom, J., Brown, L., Thompson, C.
Concurrently, I also learned when to change approaches in the field – especially when a particular research method had proven to be unsuccessful. Strategies for gaining access in doing fieldwork: Reflection of two researchers. Insider or outsider, both or neither: some dilemmas of interviewing in a cross-cultural setting. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 49(1), pp.39-43. Situating knowledges: positionality, reflexivities and other tactics.
Fieldwork experiences can often be a daunting way of conducting research but they can also be fulfilling.
I have had first-hand experience conducting fieldwork for my master’s degree, and while it was a generally enjoyable experience, I did make a number of mistakes during the process.