Essay about Scientific Method and Participant Observation

656 WordsJun 1, 20133 Pages
In the article, “Researching Dealers and Smugglers,” Patricia Adler discusses her and her husband’s experience using participant observation to collect data from drug dealers and the problems this qualitative method brought. A qualitative method focuses on collecting rich, non-statistical data. This method involves face-to-face interviews and actual participation with the group being researched. The Adlers use this method because it is almost impossible to gather accurate information on people who smuggle drugs. This is true because they are such private and deceitful people. The only way to get the real facts is if the smugglers trust the person. Unfortunately, participant observation brought problems such as the dealers and smugglers…show more content…
Cocaine also helped the dealers open up easily. During the interviews, some dealers experienced withdrawal symptoms. It caused them to become malicious with each other or towards the Alders without any warning. The way the Alders solved this problem was by taking precautions when interacting with the dealers. The cocaine use was not a problem for the Adlers, but they most likely dealt with the marijuana issue quite easily since Patricia does not specifically explain how it was solved. In addition, there was another problem the Adlers encountered. The Adlers also found that mixing the overt and covert roles with the members of the group throughout the investigation was another issue. Since the Adlers had different level relationships with every individual, some of the dealers were aware that they were a part of a research project while others were not aware. This sometimes confused the Adlers. Patricia states, “They [the informants] would made occasional veiled references in front of people, especially when loosened by intoxicants, that made us extremely uncomfortable.” This issue made the couple uncomfortable because they did not want to blow their cover. Patricia and Peter Adler also feared that the participants would think they are police. Peter and Patricia Adler solved this issue by take the necessary safety measures so anyone they did not want to find out. The
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