This new handbook is about the practices of conducting research on military issues. 

As an edited collection, it brings together an extensive group of authors from a range of disciplinary perspectives whose chapters engage with the conceptual, practical and political questions raised when doing military research.  The book considers a wide range of questions around research about, on and with military organisations, personnel and activities, from diverse starting-points across the social sciences, arts and humanities.

Each chapter in this volume:

  • Describes the nature of the military research topic under scrutiny and explains what research practices were undertaken and why. 
  • Discusses the author's research activities, addressing the nature of their engagement with their subjects and explaining how the method or approach under scrutiny was distinctive because of the military context or subject of the research. 
  • Reflects on the author’s research experiences, and the specific, often unique, negotiations with the politics and practices of military institutions and military personnel before, during and after their research fieldwork. 

The book provides a focussed overview of methodological approaches to critical studies of military personnel and institutions, and processes and practices of militarisation and militarism.  In particular, it engages with the growth in qualitative approaches to military research, particularly research carried out on military topics outside military research institutions. The handbook provides the reader with a comprehensive guide to how critical military research is being undertaken by social scientists and humanities scholars today, and sets out suggestions for future approaches to military research. 

This book will be of much interest to students of military studies, war and conflict studies, and research methods in general.

chapter |18 pages

An Introduction to Military Research Methods

ByMatthew F. Rech, K. Neil Jenkings, Alison J. Williams, Rachel Woodward

section |94 pages


chapter |9 pages

Reflections on Research in Military Archives

ByMatthew Farish

chapter |14 pages

From Declassified Documents to Redacted Files

Tracing Military Compensation
ByEmily Gilbert

chapter |14 pages

Biography and the Military Archive

ByIsla Forsyth

chapter |13 pages

Analysing Newspapers

Considering the Use of Print Media Sources in Military Research
ByK. Neil Jenkings, Daniel Bos

chapter |13 pages

The Uses of Military Memoirs in Military Research

ByRachel Woodward, K. Neil Jenkings

chapter |11 pages

A Military Definition of Reality

Researching Literature and Militarization
ByJohn Beck

chapter |18 pages

Archaeological Approaches to the Study of Recent Warfare

ByJohn Schofield, Wayne Cocroft

section |92 pages


chapter |11 pages

Comparing Militaries

The Challenges of Datasets and Process-Tracing
ByJocelyn Mawdsley

chapter |12 pages

Conducting ‘Community-Orientated' Military Research

ByRoss McGarry

chapter |15 pages

Ethnography in Conflict Zones

The Perils of Researching Private Security Contractors
ByAmanda Chisholm

chapter |14 pages

Researching Proscribed Armed Groups

Interviewing Loyalist and Republican Paramilitaries in Northern Ireland
ByNeil Ferguson

chapter |16 pages

Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis and the Study of Action-in-Interaction in Military Settings

ByChristopher Elsey, Michael Mair, Paul V. Smith, Patrick G. Watson

section |94 pages


chapter |12 pages

The Aesthetic of Being in the Field

Participant Observation With Infantry
ByJohn Hockey

chapter |12 pages

Ethnography and the Embodied Life of War-Making

ByKenneth MacLeish

chapter |12 pages

Biting the Bullet

My Time With the British Army
ByVron Ware

chapter |13 pages

Researching Military Men

ByStephen Atherton

chapter |12 pages

Putting ‘Insider-Ness' to Work

Researching Identity Narratives of Career Soldiers About to Leave the Army
ByDavid Walker

chapter |17 pages

Researching at Military Airshows

A Dialogue About Ethnography and Autoethnography
ByMatthew F. Rech, Alison J. Williams

chapter |14 pages

Perceptions of Past Conflict

Researching Modern Understandings of Historic Battlefields
ByJustin Sikora

section |124 pages


chapter |15 pages

Studying Military Image Banks

A Social Semiotic Approach
ByIan Roderick

chapter |12 pages

Photo-Elicitation and Military Research

ByK. Neil Jenkings, Ann Murphy, Rachel Woodward

chapter |13 pages

Visualising the Invisible

Artistic Methods Toward Military Airspaces
ByMatthew Flintham

chapter |17 pages

Taking Leave

Art and Closure
ByGair Dunlop

chapter |19 pages

Overt Research

Fieldwork and Transparency
ByNeal White, Steve Rowell

chapter |17 pages

The Audible Cold War

ByLouise K. Wilson