Volume 10 Issue 1 (2014)
Main Articles

Walking the Fine Line Between Fieldwork Success and Failure: Advice for New Ethnographers

Peter Richard Gill
Federation University
Elizabeth Temple
Federation University
Published May 7, 2014
  • ethnography,
  • fieldwork,
  • doctoral research,
  • research supervision,
  • reflective practice,
  • researcher’s role & responsibility,
  • researcher’s subjectivity
  • ...More


While the importance of ethnographic research in developing new knowledge is widely recognised, there remains minimal detailed description and discussion of the actual practice and processes involved in completing ethnographic fieldwork. The first author’s experiences and struggles as an ethnographer of a group of young men from two locations (a gymnasium in Melbourne, and a remote Australian fishing town) are presented and discussed as a means of informing research practice. Challenges faced by the author were often intrapersonal or interpersonal, but also included meeting institutional demands. The fieldwork process was full of negotiation and compromise between fieldwork dynamics and the restraints and realities of researching within a university. While this project was manageable in the end, it had profound personal impacts and gave rise to consideration of many research implications.