So I’ve just gotten back from my first round of fieldwork, and am about to go back again. One of the wonders of doing fieldwork now is that there are a host of apps to help you organize, plan and carry out your research. While I used many of the same apps I do everyday at home, such as Evernote and Dropbox, I found two apps to be particularly useful in the field- MaxQDA and Day One Journal.
MaxQDA- This is the software I’ve finally decided to use to code my data. What makes it incredibly helpful in field research is the mobile app (which is free) allows you record interviews and then upload them to Dropbox to be opened in the computer app. The full program on your laptop allows you to open the audio file and transcribe the interview directly into the project file. To help with the transcription, MaxQDA gives you the option to slow down the recording and to restart the recording up to 10 seconds before the stopping point every time you pause.
Important usage note- Please note that if you are going to use your iphone to record interviews you need to go into settings and turn off the option to have your phone automatically lock. I also suggest putting it into airplane mode as well so your interview will not be disturbed by texts, calls, or what’s app messages. I’ve had no problem recording with my phone except learning that first little trick about turning off auto lock (if your phone does go to sleep, it will stop recording).
After recording several interviews using the MaxQDA mobile app, I find the sound quality is good, it prevents me from carrying around another piece of equipment, and have had no problems uploading the interviews to Dropbox. However, keeping your phone awake for an hour plus to record will not be kind to your battery life. It will also take some time to upload to dropbox. Make sure you keep the phone awake while uploading interviews as well.
Day One Journal. I’ve found this incredibly helpful as a research journal. It bugs me to update it, and it is also easy to search through/find old entries- you can search by going through the calendar or by tagging. You can add pictures to the journal, and it will sync across platforms using, what else, Dropbox. This makes it easy to update and journal when I don’t have my laptop with me and am traveling light with only a phone or ipad. It also will automatically add your location, which can be useful if you need to keep track of where you are.
A key to making both of these apps work in the field is their ability to sync to multiple devices using Dropbox. However, this can present a problem if you have set up two-step verification and you no longer have access to your US/home phone number. While this normally isn’t a problem, you never know what can happen, so I would also suggest getting and setting up the Google Authenticator App before you leave because you can use it with Google, Evernote and Dropbox. See here for instructions on how to set up an authenticator app with dropbox.
And what if you haven’t set up two step verification? Stop reading this and go do it immediately. Also, set it up on every site listed on this page that you use. (Or maybe wait till the site has fixed the heart bleed issue, then set it up.)