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data collection and analysis: how can they be verified


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I'm writing my first research paper or undergraduate thesis using online ethnography.


I've read several journal articles related to my major, cultural studies, and using ethnography or online ethnography.


I wish you could clarify certain issues related to doing research in general. I mean whether my understanding is wrong or correct.


1. The first issue is related to data collection and analysis. 

So, the researcher collects data following certain methodologies and then analyzes the data gathered using certain procedures such as thematic analysis.

In the final paper, those stages will not be described in details . For example, in the method section the author will briefly describe the method used and the way data was analyzed, in addition to certain information such as the setting, the participants, etc.

And then in the results section he or she will discuss the findings and illustrate them.


But how can the reader know that the author really did what he or she claims to have done in the paper?


What if he or she is lying? And the findings came from his or her imagination?

For example, some authors may claim they spent 6 months collecting data, which may not be the case.


In other words, will my supervisor have access to my field-notes, and other types of data I gathered?


 I know some questions may sound trivial to you, but I'm a beginner after all.


I appreciate your help.

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I'm assuming you're using eHRAF, tDAR, & similar databases? Either way, I think academic integrity — also, y'know, legal mumbo-jumbo, e.g., plagiarizing — is extremely important in contemporary anthropology, at least in the US (I can't speak to anywhere else in the world's academic M.O.s). You would be hard-pressed to sustain an academic or professional career if you fell short in the honesty department even once. In earlier 20th century literature (pre-1950s or so), academic values were… different, to say the least, so that is problematic.


Unfortunately, all you can do may be to make a point of discussing paradigms, political climate, social factors, etc. that may have had an effect on the questions asked & how the research was done. For example, whereas inquiry into craniofacial morphologies to determine "race" was a big field of interest a century ago, we now use craniofacial morphologies to consider different research questions. Really, you should be discussing potential sources of bias or error — from yourself, and the researchers whose work you discuss — no matter how old your sources are; I think post-processual theory really made this the standard in archaeology, so I imagine it's the same in other subfields of anthropology as well.


Another means of mitigating problems of bias & academic integrity is to critically analyze the methods used by researchers. Many people produce & publish critiques of "old standards": the validity of the results, problems with the methods used, & so on. So, in addition to citing, say, a Binford piece from the 1970s, you may also want to search critiques of that piece, in order to discuss potential shortcomings.


Also, as far as your own work goes, I would advise sharing your field notes with your supervisor. Depending on their supervision/advising style, you may want to ask how much you should share & how often. I've always made my field notes, bibliographies (background/uncited research included), drafts, etc. available to my work supervisors; I find that it helps me stay on top of my work instead of rushing things at the last minute (I'm a terrible procrastinator), &, as my mentors, they may be able to offer me more advice on the best methods I can use, such as a recommendation of a paper, or what chemical or statistical analysis would make the most sense to use. So, for me, the more data shared, the merrier. However, this isn't everyone's learning/teaching/working style; you may want to talk with your supervisor directly about what their expectations & what your goals are.


I'm not sure how well I answered your question, but I hope that helps :)

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False anthropology reports have been published and data has been made up.


Though it is probably more common for data to be tweaked a bit to fit with what the researcher wanted, rather than making up an entire data set, though again both happen.


What we are left with, is replication and people taking notie of these reports who are close to the researcher. 

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