The method of data collection is critical for a research even during the pandemic times- this has been the central theme of the Webinar on “Field-based Research in the era of COVID-19 in India: Issues and Challenges” organised by the Department of Political Science, School of Social Sciences, University of Hyderabad (UoH) on August 19, 2020.

With the COVID-19 posing challenges to fieldwork in terms of the restrictions on travel and safety of researchers and respondents, the Webinar, a first-of-its kind, aimed at highlighting the challenges of field-based data collection for researchers in the COVID-19 times. In addition, the Webinar also focused on providing effective alternatives for carrying out fieldwork in the COVID-19 era.

Prof. Kham Khan Suan Hausing, Head, Dept. of Political Science, UoH, in his welcome remarks, stressed on the significance of field-based research and the resulting disruptions in the era of the pandemic. Prof. E. Venkatesu, Dept. of Political Science, while introducing the theme of the Webinar, highlighted the role of the social science researchers in providing field-based inputs for policymaking in testing times.

Prof. Sanjay Kumar, Professor, Lokniti- Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), one of the lead speakers, provided a comprehensive overview of the qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection in the context of the pandemic. Prof. Sanjay threw light on the various implications of data collection during the pandemic and the plausible challenges that may be encountered. He provided insights on potential methods like telephone interviews, web-based, email and postal questionnaires that the researchers can employ during these times.

Prof. P. Durga Prasad, Visiting Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Central University of Odisha (CUO), Koraput, the second lead speaker explained the various nuances of data collection like the loss of emotional connect between the researcher and the respondent in field-based research during these times and the other dynamics. He provided strategies for carrying out research in rural and tribal belts based on his experiences of “skilling, reskilling and upskilling” and other action research projects carried out in Odisha and other states.

Ms. C. Ramya, Doctoral Research Scholar, Dept. of Political Science, UoH moderated the Webinar, which was well-received by the participants. The Webinar was attended by more than 70 participants, who included research scholars, assistant professors, associate professors, academicians and researchers from various higher educational institutions across the country.