I’m gearing up to prep for my fieldwork at VividCon, and I want to talk a bit about what I’m planning to do there because I think it’s important to be transparent about your research methods.
Here is a short rundown of the methods I plan to use while there.
– Participant Observation: this is a classic anthropology method which essentially involves me being a convention attendee – attending vid shows, listening to panels, etc. – and making notes on what is going on.
– Short Interviews: The formal term for “asking questions”. I might ask someone what they think about fair use, or using YouTube, or the vid they just saw. Very straightforward.
– Extended / Formal Interviews: I would like to sit down with some people individually and go through a list of questions on your vidding practices, the vidding community, copyright and fair use issues, and issues around fandom in general.
– Roundtable: The ConCom has asked me to give a roundtable presentation on my research, where I will be outlining my approach, theories, and research thus far so that people can give me feedback and ask questions.
– Focus Group: If people are interested, I would like to get 4 or 5 people together to talk with me in a focus group, which is similar to an extended interview but tends to deal with more complex questions and lets all the group members discuss it together with me.
Ethical Concerns – Consent, Confidentiality, and the Right to Decline
My University requires that each participant read this participant information sheet and sign a consent form like this one before particpating so that everyone is fully informed. All must be over the age of 18. You need to sign your real name on the consent form, but after that I will assign you a random pseudonym and obscure your personal details so that you remain fully anonymous unless you choose to be identified by name or by a particular nickname (like your vidder name or LJ handle). I know some people are concerned about copyright suits, and I will do my utmost to protect your identity. The consent forms will be kept locked a file cabinet in my office and destroyed after the end of the project. You may refuse to answer any questions, and may cease participating at any time with no hard feelings. 🙂
I have been in touch with the ConCom, and they have provided me with several guidelines to follow for your protection and mine. They are as follows:
– Consent forms will be required from all participants.
– Interviews will mostly be arranged in advance but you can also approach me and ask for one at the event.
– I will be introduced at the beginning of the con so that people know who I am and can approach me or avoid me if they are not interested. Please do not feel shy about telling me you do not want to participate – I completely understand and I will not be offended.
– I will be interviewing away from the main con space where there is some privacy.
– I will not make any recordings or take any photos during the convention. I would like to audio-record my extended interviews, but these will happen away from the main con space and I will ask each person individually for permission.
– I am going to be handing out a flyer at the con with details on my work and how to contact me.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at this post or at my LJ. You can also contact the ConCom and they will be able to pass your concerns on to me anonymously. If you haven’t yet, please fill out my survey over at Survey Monkey.
I’m really excited to get to attend this great vidding event and meeting some of my vidder heroes!