Reimagining Qualitative Social Research Fieldwork to Move Online: Perceptions of Racism Among Physical Education Students

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated the postgraduate researcher benefits from preparing an agile and resilient approach to their fieldwork. The pandemic was the spur of this process of repositioning. However, it is introduced as a generic approach, capable of application to other significant disruptions that affect fieldwork in real-time. The case study focus is an ethnographic fieldwork investigation halted due to the pandemic. It tracks the stages and processes that successfully moved the study online, delivering a virtual fieldwork investigation—while retaining the initial research question and a sense of the ethnographic approach.

The case study considers the destabilizing experience to the researcher and their mental well-being as a central concern. It begins by itemizing a to-do list of five steps to be able to relaunch the study. The first of the five steps uses three stages of critical thinking activities. Therefore, helping the researcher figure out in what direction the study can move forward. The three stages are the following: an evaluation of the study’s positionality, a review of the purpose, and the priorities of the data collection.

A reflective and iterative process is introduced as central to developing and implementing a reimagined method. The practicalities of two parallel processes are discussed; project management of the emerging virtual fieldwork plan and intertwined multiple iterations of resolving several practicalities demanded when using the new online approach.

The virtual fieldwork was an evolving data collection method, requiring further reflective-iterative activities. Examples are discussed, including the recruitment of participants and the situational development of stronger narratives.

Despite the threat to the researcher’s mental well-being initially, a robust rethinking approach successfully moved a fieldwork program online.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSAGE Research Methods: Doing Research Online
PublisherSAGE Publications
ISBN (Electronic)9781529601121
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022


  • physical education
  • racism
  • students
  • social justice
  • publications
  • social media
  • virtual
  • knowledge
  • teaching
  • critical thinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Reimagining Qualitative Social Research Fieldwork to Move Online: Perceptions of Racism Among Physical Education Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this