In this paper, I present a qualitative method used in researching the judiciary. This article highlights the importance of employing a number of quality assurance steps and procedures to enhance the validity and reliability of the findings. I argue that to increase safety and reduce risk, procedural risk-assessment of the study project can be useful to deal with the real time practical difficulties that emerged from the fieldwork. To develop an understanding of what judges are trying to achieve when sentencing minor drug offenders, a total of thirty-one Indonesian judges were semi-structurally interviewed. The findings highlight that my methodology evolved by working in the field. When it was clear that not all participants were willing to be recorded, I decided to take notes. Also, I decided to conduct a kind of focus group by having two judges in the room concurrently. In this regard, I captured the participant's experience without being too intrusive. This paper contributes to the study of the method. The way in which I employed a number of quality assurance steps and procedures to enhance the validity and reliability of the findings. This fastidiousness and vigilance enhance confidence that this study's findings reflect closely the reality of drug sentencing in the courts studied over the period of fieldwork.


qualitative method, semi-structurally interview, practical difficulties fieldwork, judiciary

Author Bio(s)

Cecep Mustafa is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Stirling, United Kingdom. The working title of his Doctoral Research is “The Judicial Perspectives on the Sentencing of Minor Drug Offenders in Indonesia.” He is interested in qualitative research. Please direct correspondence to cecepmustafa97@gmail.com.


I thank Dr Margaret Malloch and Dr Niall Hamilton Smith for their valuable comments on earlier versions of this article. Cecep Mustafa 'doctoral research was funded by a grant of the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP).

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