MILITARY FAMILY RESEARCH: METHODOLOGICAL LESSONS LEARNED, OFTEN THE HARD WAY. UPDATED, WITH A EULOGY TO DR. BRUCE BELL
Some of the advantages and the pitfalls of planning and conducting military family research are discussed. Family theory remains critical to research on military families but needs to be combined with detailed knowledge of the issues faced by military families. The military’s concerns about family privacy can lead to tensions with the researcher’s need to define population and sample characteristics, as well as to obtain high response rates through systematic follow-up of potential survey respondents. Researchers may find an easier path to publication for research that sounds like “good news”, while research that seems like “bad news” may be suppressed, disguised, or managed in a variety of ways. Because of the complexities of military life and military family life it may be very useful to bring military personnel or veterans into your research group when developing and testing theories about military family life.