Doing Fieldwork in a Pandemic

Here’s a document that deserves more attention: doing fieldwork in a pandemic, a crowd-sourced document initiated by Deborah Lupton.

Isolation measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 means that social researchers who conduct face-to-face fieldwork (interviews, focus groups, participant observation, ethnographies etc) are now faced with the challenge of either delaying or re-inventing their methods so that they can continue their research until these measures are relaxed.

Doing fieldwork in a pandemic

rtweet with Premium to search the archive

The R package rtweet does a great job to connect R to Twitter. Unless you’re looking at the past 7 days, Twitter offers two additional API (with different syntax).

If you access Twitter archives with rtweet and have a Premium subscrption on Twitter, the current version of rtweet sends requests in batches of n=100, but Premium (currently) allows batches up n=500. This means, you use 5 requests where 1 would suffice. Kevin Taylor has provided a fix for this, which he also mentioned in the issues of rtweet. Using the fix is easy (much easier than the description in issues thread suggests):


This will replace any installed version fo rtweet. You probably want this version if you’re on Twitter Premium; for the free Sandbox, n=100 is correct. Perhaps this is why rtweet has not implemented the fix yet?

Image credit: CC-by-nc by diarnst

What is a maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER)?

Maître d’enseignement et de recherche (MER) are relatively rare positions which were apparently introduced in universities in the French-speaking area of Switzerland in the 1990s.

MER are part of the corps intermédiaire (German: Mittelbau) along with PhD researchers and postdoctoral researchers. They are very similar to the Maître-assistante (MA) positions, also unique to French-speaking universities in Switzerland, as far as I know, with the only difference that MER are open-ended after evaluation, whereas MA positions are fixed-term (this makes MER the only positions in the corps intermédiaire that can be open-ended).

As other positions of the corps intermédiaire, MER are not part of the decision-making in universities, normally have no assistants, and may be excluded from some internal resources. They are attached to a chair, which limits independence in teaching and research, and typically teach more than professors. Despite the R in the name, apparently some MER effectively teach full time. Compared to professors, MER and MA have a lower salary and are often employed part-rime. Unlike Lecturers in the British system, no promotion is foreseen for MER (at all). In this sense, the ‘official’ translation of MER (and MA) into ‘senior lecturer’ is inaccurate.

Image credit: CC-by Jeena Paradies