ERIC Number: ED184976
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1976-Jun
Some Reflections on the Problems of Oral Biographical Research.
Freeman, William H.
Problems for the biographical researcher in conducting oral interviews with primary sources are discussed. Successful biographical research using oral history must be thorough and honest. A major problem in getting candid information from primary subjects may occur if quotations touch upon areas considered personal or controversial. Other problems concern the reaction of subjects to tape recorders, gaining the trust of subjects, getting too close to the subjects to maintain objectivity, and keeping records of interviews. The research method must be adapted to the personality of the subject. For instance, some personalities change when a microphone appears before them. Also, voluminous note-taking or tape recording may be hampered considerably if the subject is a "put on" artist who delights in weaving intricate narratives. Another problem concerns the researcher's reporting correctly the language of the conversation, especially over a long period of time. This problem corresponds to that of the accuracy of the recollector's quotations of past conversations. Because of these inaccuracies, it is wise to get at least two accounts of an event. Family or personal opposition to the project and determining who is really an authority in a given case are other problems. Finally, the researcher must constantly assess his objectivity by questioning whether he is showing bias toward either side of a controversial issue, if he is justified in doing so, if the other side is represented, and if the subject should be abandoned. (Author/RM)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Convention of the North American Society for Sport History (Eugene, OR, June 1976).