Workshop: Theory and practice of qualitative field research

This workshop is designed to provide some practical and useful guidance to improve the application of qualitative research methods. This workshop will discuss the “do’s and don’ts" of qualitative field research and concentrate on the following questions: Which theory lies behind it? Why are we doing it? Which sort of questions can we answer by carrying out qualitative research? And how do we actually plan and carry out our field work?

Organised by Centre for Poverty Analysis, Sri Lanka

Wed 26 March 2014 09:00 to 17:00

Venue University of Colombo

Qualitative research is a distinctive approach in social sciences which involves interpretive inquiry to explore social or human problems. It aims to interpret social phenomena in terms of meanings people bring to them.  It can employ different theoretical approaches and use a variety of tools such as case studies, personal experiences, life histories, interviews, observations, visual texts and many more. It requires not just a solid understanding of the approaches and methods but also diligence in how it is applied to produce credible results.

The areas that the workshop will cover will be:

  • Qualitative research vs quantitative research
  • How to set up qualitative research: design and planning
  • Doing fieldwork: getting access, selecting respondents, techniques of interviewing
  • Data analysis
  • Ethics and politics of doing fieldwork ‘at home’

The workshop will be an interactive one that will combine lectures with interactive sessions, to provide a good balance of theoretical information, the trainers’ practical knowledge and the audiences own experience.


Professor Dr Thea Hilhorst and Dr Carolien Jacobs, of the Special Chair Humanitarian Aid and Reconstruction, Wageningen University, the Netherlands.


The training is aimed at post graduate students and researchers interested in improving their qualitative research skills.  It is hoped to accommodate 50 participants. The workshop is free of charge to post graduate students of any of the local universities/instituted and higher learning.