3.5.1 Introduction As was noted above (Section 3.1), observational research involves ‘looking hard’ at social situations and being systematic in noting what is occurring. The (participant) observer does not just observe and record the unusual or ‘extreme’ behaviour, but notes all types of social interaction and events. The observation researcher builds up what some commentators have called ‘thick descriptions’ or ‘rich descriptions’, which are detailed accounts that emphasise richness and depth of reported observation and dialogue.
Field notes are the life-blood of observational research and sometimes researchers guard their notes jealously (see, for example, Filby’s comments, Section 22.214.171.124). Anthropologists seem to treat their field notes with even more veneration. JeanJackson (1990) argued that a 'mystique' surrounds anthropological field notes, which manifests itself through protectiveness and a reverential attitude towards the notes, supported by apocryphal and real stories about their loss.