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Professor Nigel Fielding

Emeritus Professor
+44 (0)1483 686967
31 AD 03
Wednesday mornings and Thursdays

Academic and research departments

Department of Sociology.


Research interests

My research interests are in criminology, socio-legal studies, social research methodology, and new technologies for social research. In criminology I have particular expertise in policing, having conducted studies of police training, police occupational culture, community and neighbourhood policing, equal opportunities in the police service, police corruption, and comparative research on international police systems. In socio-legal studies I have particular interests in the criminal courts and the experiences of lay people during the criminal trial process. My study of lay participants' experience of trials of cases of physical violence won the Socio-Legal Studies Association Hart Prize 2007 for the Best Socio-Legal Book.In social research methodology my primary expertise is in qualitative methods, particularly the practice and ethics of participant observation, the status of interview data, and software for the analysis of qualitative data, in which latter I co-direct the UK national centre for qualitative software. I also have substantial expertise in multiple-method research and methodological 'triangulation', secondary analysis of archival qualitative data, online research methods, and the application of grid and high performance computing to social research, where I have a particular interest in the use of Access Grid technology for 'virtual fieldwork'. My paper on the latter was shortlisted for the Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2007.

My research has been sponsored by, inter alia, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Fulbright Commission, the US Department of Defense, the Home Office, the UK Police Foundation, the US Police Foundation, Surrey Police Authority, Surrey Police, the Metropolitan Police, the Swiss Information and Documentation Service, the Deutsche Zentral Archiv, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Thales plc, Electricite de France, Volkswagen Stiftung, and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

Research collaborations

Current and Recently Completed Research Projects

Further information on these projects is available on our Research pages by following the links available below:* Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software (CAQDAS)* Virtual Collaboration: affordances and engagement* Access Grid Node* Signal Crimes National Roll Out Phase One


My teaching interests are in criminology, qualitative research methods, and computational support for qualitative data analysis. I teach postgraduate modules in criminal justice, a postgraduate module in Field Methods, and a postgraduate module in Managing the Research and Publication Process. I also contribute to the day course programme of the Computer-Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis ('CAQDAS') Networking Project, of which I am co-director, and chair its seminar series for advanced users and software developers. Much of my teaching currently takes the form of the supervision of Masters' dissertations and doctoral theses, having supervised to successful completion 48 MSc dissertations and 22 PhD theses.

Professional Activities

I have served as external examiner for doctoral theses at the universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, East Anglia, Exeter, LSE, Middlesex, Nottingham Trent, Queen's University Belfast, Royal Holloway University of London, Southampton, and for doctoral theses abroad at Bharathidasan University (Tamil Nadu), Cornell University, La Trobe University Melbourne, Universiti Sains Malasia, and the University of Alabama.

I was Editor of the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice from 1985 to 1998; the journal is one of the two generic criminology journals in UK and the longest established. Since 1995 I have been co-editor of the New Technologies for Social Research series published by Sage Publications. I was a founding editorial board member of the journal Qualitative Inquiry. I currently serve on the editorial boards of the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice; the International Journal of Social Research Methodology; Policing and Society; Qualitative Research; and Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/ Forum Qualitative Social Research.

In addition to membership of the College of Assessors, I have been a member of a number of Economic and Social Research Council commissioning panels, including that of the Data Archiving and Documentation Service (UK Economic and Social Data Service); the e-Social Science Pilot Demonstrator Project Initiative; the National Centre for e-Social Science; and the Qualitative Demonstrator Programme. I also served on the JISC e-Social Science Training and Awareness Commissioning Panel, and on the ESRC Postgraduate Training Board for Statistics, Research Methods and Computing. I am a member of the ESDS Core Advisory Committee; the ESDS Qualidata Advisory Committee; and the Advisory Committee of the ESRC Qualitative Demonstrator Programme. I am an Expert Reviewer for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and a peer reviewer for the Leverhulme Trust, Commission for Racial Equality, the Nuffield Foundation, the Lord Chancellor's Department, and the Home Office. I have served as an advisor to the German National Competence Centre for Qualitative Research, the Swiss Information and Documentation Service, and the Home Office National Reassurance Policing Project.

I am a member of the British Society of Criminology, the Socio-Legal Studies Association, and the Howard League for Penal Reform. I was elected into membership as an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2002.

I have served as a consultant to Surrey Probation and After Care Service, Inner London Probation and After Care Servicer, Hampshire Probation Service, Metropolitan Police, Surrey Police, Centre for Advanced Research in Education, Police Training Council, CENTREX Bramshill National Police Staff College, Home Office Research, Development and Statistics, Economic and Social Research Council, the Inquiry into the Role and Responsibilities of the Police ('The Sheehy Inquiry', Cassels Inquiry into the Future of the Police Service, the Northern Ireland Post Qualifying Education and Training Partnership and a number of UK, US and European publishers of social science.

At the University of Surrey I chaired the Research Award Programme of the University Research Committee from 1990 to 1993. I was Faculty representative on University Research Committee from 1990 to 1996. Following reorganisation I was School representative from 1997 to 2001 and again from 2006 to 2007. Following further reorganisation I was Faculty representative from 2007. I was Deputy Dean of Human Studies from 1993 to 1997 with particular responsibility for research development, chairing the Faculty Research Committee and directing its research award programme. I was also involved in staff appointments, course validations and external consultations. I have served as an elected member of Senate, and as Chair of the Student Progress and Assessment Board (Research). From 1992 to 1997 I was a member of the Research Committee of Roehampton Institute of Higher Education. I served as Acting Dean for various periods between 1993 and 1996. I am the Senate nominee for tribunals in respect of the dismissal of academic staff, a Senate nominee on Special Admissions Committee, a Senate nominee on Student Disciplinary Panels, and served from 1995 to 1998 as Senate member of the Reader/Professor Promotions Committee. I chaired the Research Committee of the Faculty of Arts & Human Sciences from 1997 to 2001 and from 2006 to 2007, taking up the Chair of Faculty Research Committee following the creation of the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences. I served as a member of the School Management Group of the School of Human Sciences from 1997 to 2001, and from 2006 to 2007, taking up membership of the Faculty Management Committee in 2007 as Associate Dean (Research and Enterprise).

I directed the Department of Sociology's doctoral research programme from 1985 to 2000, and chaired its Departmental Research Committee from 2000 to 2007. I have served as Acting Head of Department for various periods from 1993. From its formation in 1997 I have served as co-Director of the Institute of Social Research. I have responsibility for the Institute's principal activity, the Visiting International Fellowship programme, which brings from one to three international social research methodology experts to the Department to facilitate research and publishing collaborations with departmental staff.

Related LinksInstitute of Social ResearchCAQDAS, Computer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis Software Networking ProjectSurrey Access Grid Node

My publications


I have authored or edited 16 books, 53 articles in learned journals, 56 chapters in edited collections, and 84 other publications excluding reviews. A list of the books, and articles published recently, follows.

BooksN. Fielding, Courting violence: Offence against the Person cases in court, Oxford: Oxford University Press (in the Clarendon Criminology Series), 2006, 240 pp. Awarded the Socio-Legal Studies Association Hart Prize 2007 for the Best Socio-Legal Book.

N. Fielding, The police and social conflict, second edition, London: Cavendish, 2005, 242 pp.

N. Fielding, Interviewing, boxed set, London: Sage Publications Ltd and Thousand Oaks CA: Sage, Inc., 2002, 1,664 pages in 4 volumes.

N. Fielding and M. Schreier (eds), Qualitative and quantitative research: conjunctions and divergences, Special Issue of Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 2 (1), 2001.

N. Fielding, A. Clarke and R. Witt (eds), The Economic Dimensions of Crime, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000, 260pp.

N. Fielding and R.M. Lee, Computer Analysis and Qualitative Research, London: Sage, 1998, 204pp.N. Fielding, Community policing, Oxford: Oxford University Press (in the Clarendon Criminology Series), 1995, 229 pp

N. Fielding, C. Kemp and C. Norris, Negotiating nothing: police decision-making in disputes (with C. Kemp and C. Norris), Farnborough: Avebury, 1992, 157 pp.

N. Fielding and R.M. Lee (eds) Using computers in qualitative research, London: Sage, 1991, , 216 pp. (Second edition, 1992).

.N. Fielding, The police and social conflict, (for the series Conflict and change in Britain: a new audit), London: Athlone, 1991, 266 pp.

N. Fielding and S. Conroy, Investigating child sexual abuse, London: Police Foundation/Policy Studies Institute, 1990, 200 pp.

N. Fielding, Actions and structure (editor), Beverley Hills & London: Sage, 1988, 202 pp.

N. Fielding, Joining forces: police training, socialisation and occupational competence, London: Routledge, 1988, 228 pp.

N. Fielding and J.L. Fielding, Linking data: the articulation of qualitative and quantitative methods in social research (with J.L. Fielding), Beverley Hills & London: Sage, 1986, 96 pp. Chapter 2, 'Comparative methods in social science' reprinted in A. Bryman (ed.) Classics of Mixed Methods, 2006.

N. Fielding, Probation practice: client support under social control, Farnborough: Gower, 1984, 174 pp.

N. Fielding, The National Front, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul (International Library of Sociology), 1981, 252 pp.

Journal ArticlesN. Fielding and M. Macintyre, 'Access Grid Nodes in Field Research' , Sociological Research Online, 11(2), 2006. Shortlisted for the Sage Prize for Innovation and Excellence 2007.

N. Fielding and M. Innes, 'Reassurance Policing, Community Policing and Measuring Police Performance', Policing and Society, 16(2), 2006, 127-45.

N. Fielding, 'Identity and intellectual work: biography, theory and research on law enforcement', Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance, 7, 2006, 161-83.

N. Fielding, 'Concepts and Theory in Community Policing', Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 44(5), 2005, 460-72.

N. Fielding, 'The Resurgence, Legitimation and Institutionalization of Qualitative Methods' [23 paragraphs], Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 6(2), Art. 32. Available at: May 2005.

N. Fielding, M. Innes and N. Cope, 'The appliance of science: the theory and practice of crime intelligence analysis', British Journal of Criminology, 45 (1), 2004, 39-5.

N. Fielding, W. Mangabeira and R. Lee 'Computers and Qualitative Research: adoption, use and representation', Social Science Computer Review (US), 22 (2), 2004, 167-78.

N. Fielding, 'Getting the most from archived qualitative data: epistemological, practical and professional obstacles', in special issue on Celebrating Classic Sociology: Pioneers of Contemporary British Qualitative Research, International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 7(1), 2004, 97-108.

N. Fielding and M. Innes, 'From Community to Communicative Policing: Signal Crimes and the Problem of Public Reassurance', Sociological Research Online, 7(2), 2002.

N. Fielding and R.M. Lee, 'New patterns in the adoption and use of qualitative software', Field Methods, 14 (2), May 2002, 197-216.

N. Fielding, 'Theorizing community policing', British Journal of Criminology, 42(1), 2002, 147-63.

N. Fielding, W. Mangabeira and R.M. Lee, 'Padroes de Adocao, Modos de Uso e Representacoes sobre Tecnologia Usuarios do CAQDAS no Reino Unido, em Meados da Decada de 90' (Patterns of Adoption, Modes of Use and Representations about Technology: CAQDAS users in the UK in the Mid-1990's') Sociologias. Porto Alegre, No. 5, 2001, 20-52.

N. Fielding, 'Community policing: fighting crime or fighting colleagues', International Journal of Police Science and Management, 3(4), 2001, 289-302.

'On the compatibility between qualitative and quantitative research methods' (with M. Schreier) [54 paragraphs], Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 2 (1), 2001. Available at

N. Fielding, 'The shared fate of two innovations in qualitative methodology: the relationship of qualitative software and secondary analysis of archived qualitative data' [43 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research [On-line Journal], 1 (3), 2000. Available at

N. Fielding and J.L. Fielding, 'Resistance and adaptation to criminal identity: using secondary analysis to evaluate classic studies of crime and deviance', Sociology, 34(4), 2000,1-19.

N. Fielding, 'The norm and the text: Denzin and Lincoln's handbooks of qualitative method', British Journal of Sociology, 50(3), 1999, 523-532.

'Policing's dark secret: the career paths of ethnic minority officers', Sociological Research Online, 4(1), 1999.

N. Fielding, A. Clarke and R. Witt, 'Crime and economic activity: a panel data approach', British Journal of Criminology, 39(3), 1999, 391-400.

N. Fielding, 'Research and practice in policing: a view from Europe', Police Practice and Research, (USA), I (1), 1999, 1-29.

N. Fielding, R. Witt and A. Clarke, 'Common trends and common cycles in regional crime', Applied Economics, 30, 1998, 1407-1412.

N. Fielding, 'Comments on: The moral economics of homeless heroin addicts: confronting ethnography, HIV risk, and everyday violence in San Francisco shooting encampments', Substance Use and Misuse, 33 (11), 2361-2363, 1998.

N. Fielding, R. Witt and A. Clarke, 'Crime, earnings inequality and unemployment in England and Wales' , Applied Economics Letters, 5, 1998, 265-267.

N. Fielding and R.M. Lee, 'Applications of computer software in the sociological analysis of qualitative data' (with R.M. Lee), Bulletin de Methodologie Sociologique, 57, 1997, 3-24.