Topsight is an introductory text for field researchers who are interested in how information flows through an organization, where it gets stuck, and how to get it unstuck. It's based on my own research approach, but also on years of teaching field research to writing majors. One of the things I have really liked about writing Topsight, and teaching from it, is that I have been able to express what's fun and intriguing about field research. Sure, not every part is fun—I don't enjoy putting together consent forms, for instance—but most of it is. And it gets more fun when you have enough guidance to get you through the rough spots: pitching your project to a site, getting stakeholders on board, writing a research proposal that will pass the IRB but still be flexible enough to address unexpected contingencies, and coding the mountain of data you gather, for instance.
Since I launched Topsight in January 2013, I've used it for four courses (three undergraduate, one MA). I've Skyped with two graduate courses at different universities about it. I've received emails from several graduate students whose advisors suggest they read Topsight. And I've been really happy with the response.
At the same time, a book can always be improved. I've been keeping a running list of things I want to revise for the (eventual) second edition. Some improvements include:
- Streamlining the research proposal, consent form, and protocol examples.
- Revising the interim report example to better illustrate the principles in the chapter.
- Revising the coding chapter to emphasize process, provide more grounding on coding, and refer to solid coding resources such as Saldana's Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers.
- Discussing organization types and organizational lifecycles in a dedicated chapter.
- Framing the analytical models within the larger qualitative research tradition of analytical models, e.g., in Miles, Huberman, & Saldana's Qualitative Data Analysis 3ed.
- Developing an overview of participatory design techniques for testing recommendations.
- Addressing miscellaneous typos and formatting issues.
- Perhaps going to larger book dimensions.
If you've used Topsight, I'm sure you also have suggestions. Please don't hesitate to send me your suggestions or comments!