The majority of Tousignant’s sources are historical: laboratory spaces and equipment that have remained, documents that have been archived, left, or put away, and stories told about what was (oral histories). The last chapter is based more substantially on ethnographic observation.
She notes that she paid attention to the sites where she found documents (most were not formally archived, but kept or left in situ) and where she conducted interviews, and spent additional time interacting with these spaces and their occupants informally. In terms of responsibility, she notes that she does not fully share the sense of nostalgia and optimism her interlocutors often projected, and instead she underscores past constraints on their capacity to detect and to protect, and its future uncertainty. But she notes that she takes seriously memories and hopes of “better times” as indices of “better toxicology.” She notes that she studied the topic over a period of about eight months between January 2010 and March 2011.
Tousignant includes some direct excerpts from her interlocutors within her text. In chapter 5 she notes in footnote 1: “I attended weekly staff meetings; conversed, mostly informally, with staff members during their workday; participated in the design and data collection for the envenomation survey; hung out in the common office and, later, the helpline room.” She does not describe how she managed her own ethnographic data. She cites within some of the footnotes her interview sources.
In chapter 2 she mentions: The sources of information I obtained about the lab during this period are the following…”
Quayson uses archival work, participant observation, surveys, unstructured interviews, structured interviews, discourse analysis and literary criticism as part of his project to develop a spatial history of the urban present. I was not able to find specific details about his data practices to manage these diverse datasets.
Pollock does not go into detail about her own data practices but mentions that “since beginning my research on this project in 2010, I have interviewed several members of iThemba’s management and scientific advisory board – some in the United States and the United Kingdom, some in South Africa – and I have taken four ethnographic trips to iThemba’s labs in the outskirts of Johannesburg. All of the scientists at iThemba agreed to participate in multiple open-ended interviews, and I also attended their lab meetings and did participant observation onsite.” This suggests the kind of ethnographic data she collected although it doesn’t detail storage, sharing, etc.
There are photographs by the author included in the paper.
On anonymity: “Unlike the management and scientific advisory board of iThemba, the on-site scien- tists are not public figures, and so I try to make sure that individuals are not identifiable when I quote them below, even though this has the unfortunate effect of making their voices somewhat disembodied. (861)”
Pollock includes direct quotes in block paragraphs in the paper.
Tilley seeks to look at development of science at multiple levels (16). But most of her analysis is at the level of meta (the dominant discursive regimes of the time) and at the macro and meso (legal, politica, organizational).
Tilley’s own data is archival. She includes an appendix where she outlines colonial office lists that she used and gives context to the data in over 4 pages of narrative. She includes 29 tables of statistics the count over time of colonial offices in Africa. She also includes references to original documents in her endnotes. On page 440 she lists the archives she visited.
She does not discuss her own data practices.
Biruk puts her citations to her raw data in her footnotes. She indicates for example: "1. Dr. Jones, interview with author, SEptember 20, 2007, Lilongwe, Malawi. Of course, the only person who has access to her footnotes is herself so I wonder if this is 1) more for her own memory and archiving purposes and 2) to give credibility to her study and book. If someone (demographer working in Malawi?) questions this as "cooked," she can say, no, I spoke to this person on this day in this place, see! So in some way, she has absorbed some of the assumptions of the epistemic community she studied.... which need to demostrate that their version of the truth is grounded in reality.
Biruk includes photos she took, excerpts from her field notes, includes many vignettes, includes figures and graphics from the surveys she administered, tables of team members roles, direct quotes from informants, sketches that the author drew, composite sketches of “typical” research encounters. However, there is not a more reusable form of her data that could for example be used by another for alternative future analysis.
Biruk writes that she hopes the book will reflect the potential of anthropology's commitment to "slow research" but also prompt anthropologists to "reflect on how our own data activities likewise cook data." She writes: "A granular analysis of research worlds in a particular place at a particular time, the book suggests, encourages us to more critically engage with the kinds of evidence we too often take for granted, whether inside or outside our discipline or training." (27).
My own project is a direct answer to Biruk's call here, doing an explicit study not on anthropology or any other discipline per say but on the multiple disciplines (including work outside of the academy) that use and produce qualitative data.
Biruk notes her own complicity in the systems she is critiquing highlighlighting how "anthropologists make global health in the process of studying in, and continue to be as "doubly ambivalent, perhaps, as our colonial predecessors - in quiet collaboration with power and institutions even as we critique them." (page 18). She also notes how because she was in the field and administering the questionnaires together with the demographers she also has another level of complicity in the actual work she is critiquing as well.