Quantitative data seems so clean and clear. On the face of it numbers give you facts that you cannot argue against. This paper explores my experiences as a fieldworker in the business of collecting for these numbers. It gives an account of my thoughts and feelings while undertaking a brief to act as a “vessel” an inanimate object, whose sole purpose is to collect the messy debris of human data and facilitate the processes of transforming them into a numerate form. Drawing on Fine's “working the hyphens” (Fine 1994) it challenges the notion of objectivity and the prospect of producing accurate quantitative data without some qualitative input. It questions the ethics of placing monetary constraints on the sharp end of research, and asks whether some data collection methods are as transparent as they purport to be. Finally it asks whether any funded body can live up to claims of neutrality.
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