Skip to content

Practical Guide to Fieldwork (LAW-DS-GUIFIE-22)


Department LAW
Course category LAW Seminar - 3 credits
Course type Seminar
Academic year 2022-2023
Credits 3 (EUI Law credits)
Contact Law Department administration,
  Course materials

02/02/2023 10:00-12:00 @ Sala degli Stemmi, Villa Salviati

06/02/2023 11:00-13:00 @ Sala degli Stemmi, Villa Salviati

06/02/2023 14:00-16:00 @ Sala degli Stemmi, Villa Salviati

08/02/2023 10:00-12:00 @ Sala degli Stemmi, Villa Salviati

08/02/2023 14:00-16:00 @ Sala degli Stemmi, Villa Salviati


Qualitative methods can be used alone or in combination with quantitative methods.  Qualitative methods often involve fieldwork interviews.  The skills of fieldwork should not be thought of as confined to PhD projects.  Law reform bodies, government agencies, consulting firms are examples of public and private organizations that use qualitative methods as part of their report-writing processes.  The skills of interviewing translate into many different professional contexts.  They are worth acquiring.  They also take time to build.
During 30 years of doing socio-legal projects in both developed and developing countries I have made a number of mistakes.  We discuss them so that you have a reasonable chance of not repeating them.  Along the way we will also discuss sampling strategies such as outlier logic, natural experiments, diversity sampling, criterion sampling etc.  We will discuss practical issues, including, for example, how to start an interview and how not to, whether you should tape, how to end an interview, phone interviews, the differences between interviewing in Washington, Brussels, New Delhi or Beijing and how to approach interviews with indigenous people.
Becoming a good fieldworker takes time.  It involves skills of listening, observation, cultural sensitivity and analysis.  This seminar introduces you to the skills that you will need to work on.
Texts: There are no texts, but researchers should read Simon Halliday & Patrick Schmidt (eds), Conducting Law and Society Research: Reflections on Methods and Practices, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009; and Kathy Charmaz, Constructing Grounded Theory, Sage Publications, 2006.
We will also discuss Derek Forbes, A Watchdog’s Guide to Investigative Reporting, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, 2005. There are important overlaps between university-based fieldwork and investigative reporting.
Researchers will be required to draft a letter requesting an interview and to prepare the first five minutes of an interview. 

First, Second & Third Term: registration from 19 to 26 September.

Register for this course

Page last updated on 21 September 2018

Go back to top of the page