Research Writing

Advantages and disadvantages of field research/definitions/examples

field research or field study is a type of research in which data is acquired or measured about a particular event, in the place where it occurs. That is to say, the researcher moves to the site where the phenomenon he wishes to study occurs, in order to collect useful information for his research. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Examples of field research would be biologists taking data from a zoo, sociologists taking data from actual social interactions, or meteorologists taking data from the weather in a city.

On the one hand, with field research, data can be collected in order to expand the knowledge to carry out a study. On the other hand, the information obtained can be used for practical purposes, making diagnoses and proposing changes to modify some type of unwanted situation.

Likewise, field research gives the researcher the possibility of having a broader understanding of the data obtained, since they will know first-hand the real conditions through which said information was obtained, being able to modify or review it if any doubt arises. .

Characteristics of field research

Some of the most important characteristics of a field research are the following:


Field researches are carried out in the place where the event to be studied by the researcher occurs, and the researcher has to travel there to capture the necessary data.

Original sources

The researcher has the possibility of collecting the data directly at the place of the events, which gives him greater control both in the essence and in the quantity of the same. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Obtaining data

Obtaining the data necessary to carry out the research can be done through observation, interaction with study subjects (using surveys or interviews), and also by referring to existing information.

Time and costs

Since this type of research requires data collection at the scene, the time and costs of the research can be high.

Field research design

The design of a field research is the way or the method by which the researcher will carry out said research. It refers to the development of a research plan, in which the techniques and instruments used to obtain the desired information are defined.

Depending on the type of research that needs to be carried out, there are different research design models, some of these are: Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Pre-experimental designs

In this type of design, the researcher has no control over the variables that affect the study, so data is collected before and after these variables are applied. Finally the data obtained are compared.

Quasi-experimental designs

In quasi-experimental designs, the researcher has control over one of the variables that affect the group to be studied.

Unlike experimental designs, in quasi-experimental designs the researcher carries out the study on previously formed groups. It is for this reason that the results obtained in this type of design may become less reliable.

Experimental designs

In this type of design, the researcher has control over all the variables involved in field research. In this way, by entering variables or causes, you can see the reactions of the studied subjects.

In addition, they have the free formation or selection of groups for their subsequent study, under the conditions that this considers necessary. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Field research techniques

Field research techniques are the techniques by which the researcher will collect the data he needs for his research. It is the way in which information will be obtained or captured at the scene of the events.

Due to the great diversity of phenomena or events that can be studied using field research, there are different types of techniques that allow the collection of information, which are based on the type of data that must be obtained.

Next, the different techniques used to carry out a field research are exposed.

Field experiments

The use of field experiments makes it possible to observe how the behaviors of the subjects studied develop in their natural habitat, by introducing a variable alien to this, allowing the researcher to obtain first-hand data, by closely observing the reactions they are trying to investigate .

However, if the subjects notice that they are being studied, it is possible that they change their naturalness in behavior, thus losing the objectivity of the study.

The data collected using field experiments are of the quantitative type.


The observation technique can be applied in two different ways, one of them is passive, where the researcher limits himself to observing the study subjects from the outside, and the other is a participant, getting involved in the study group and sharing with these your experiences.

Depending on the technique used to carry out the research, the data to be collected will vary in its type. In the case of passive observation, the data collected will be quantitative, and in participant observation, qualitative. Advantages and disadvantages of field research


The survey technique is carried out through the use of a questionnaire, a fact that allows reaching a large number of people at the same time, without the obligation to contact them, since it can be delivered by any means, both digital and physical.


In the interview, the researcher meets the study subject in person, asking questions to obtain information. Thanks to this, the type of information that is obtained is very detailed, since the researcher can delve into the questions that he / she believes are necessary to obtain the information.

For its execution there are two forms of interviews, the structured interview, which consists of a previously prepared question guide, and the unstructured interview, where the interviewer asks questions to arrive at the information he needs, as he talks to the client. subject.

Life stories

This type of technique is used to obtain information about the way or way in which a community lived, in a certain period of time. To do it, you can use stories and stories obtained from different people, or also from historical files found in the media, newspapers or letters, among others.

Discussion groups

When a discussion group technique is used, the information obtained is qualitative. In addition, it can be used as a complement to the interview, allowing data to be obtained about the social structure or the type of ideological current that the group of people studied has.


Instruments are the tools used in field research, with the aim of capturing information, classifying it and even making it more understandable for later analysis. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Therefore, the instruments are divided into three large groups:

Organizing instruments

Sorting instruments are used, as their name suggests, to sort the data obtained in research, where the way they are sorted depends on the type of instrument used.

Some examples of ordering instruments are the following:

  • Records.
  • Guides.
  • Files.
  • Catalogs.
  • Payroll.
  • Field diaries.
  • Listings.
  • Indices.

Qualifying Instruments

Classification instruments are used to form groups of data, which share certain previously determined characteristics, such as time, magnitude, place or behavior, among others.

Some examples of qualifying instruments are as follows: Advantages and disadvantages of field research

  • Diagrams
  • Samples
  • Paintings.
  • Tabs.
  • Statistical representations.
  • Graphics.
  • Cédulas.

Diagrammatic or cartographic instruments

This type of instrument makes it possible to observe the data with the naked eye, since they are represented by symbols, images or maps. It is for this reason that they are used mostly when working in rural areas, market studies or censuses, among others.

Some examples of these instruments are:

  • Territorial charts.
  • Blueprints.
  • Schemes.
  • Diagrams
  • Maps.
  • Descriptive letters.

Advantages and disadvantages of field research

As with most research, field research has a number of advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most important are listed below. Advantages and disadvantages of field research


Thanks to the fact that in most cases the information is taken in the place where the facts to be investigated naturally occur, the researcher will obtain data without any type of adulteration, and will have a greater knowledge of the applied variables.

In addition, it allows the researcher to obtain a greater degree of understanding of the real situation that he wishes to study.


One of the most important disadvantages of this type of research has to do with the high economic cost involved in conducting field research, since the researcher has to travel several times to the place of study.

Another disadvantage is the time it takes, since to obtain a good amount of data it is necessary to observe, survey or interview several people, during a few days.

Field research examples

Some examples of field researches may be the following:

The zoonosis of SARS-CoV-2

From research in China, it is known that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was transmitted through zoonoses from bats. To do this, the researchers had to conduct field research taking data from bats from Chinese caves and others from Southeast Asia. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

research with beached whales

To know what causes the whales to be stranded, it is necessary to go to the beaches where the event occurs and collect data.

Intel and consumption in Europe

In 2002, Intel, through its subsidiary People and Practices Research and under the leadership of anthropologist Genevieve Bell, was looking for an efficient way to market in Europe.

They visited 45 homes in small, medium, and large cities in 5 European countries during 6 years, concluding that it was not possible to speak of only one Europe and that each country has its own idiosyncrasies.

However, the field research managed to gather enough data for a more effective marketing in each country of the Old Continent. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Invasion of animals during confinement, Spain

In 2020, many cities in Spain reported how animals from the countryside and rural areas entered the city, being totally unusual. Wild boars in Madrid or Barcelona, ​​goats in Albacete, roe deer in Valladolid and even a bear in a town in Asturias.

This phenomenon occurred during the confinement period due to the respiratory virus that affected the country (as well as the rest of the planet) during that year.

The field researchers observed that the reason was due to the reduction of human persons on the street, less pollution and pollution, as well as less noise or direct hazards such as automobiles.

In turn, they reported that once the confinement stage was over and normal activity was recovered, the animals would abandon urban centers to environments more conducive to their survival, something that has already happened in other areas where the same phenomenon occurred ( Huabei province). Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Study of the behavior of tourists in Mexico City

To carry out the study, a field research can be carried out using the passive observation technique, where the researcher travels through areas of the city where there is more influx of tourism, observing the behavior of tourists, and collecting data for the research.

Study of the acceptance status of an internet service company in Rosario, Argentina

One of the ways to carry out this study is by distributing a survey in different neighborhoods of the city, either physically or by email, and asking a series of questions that can serve as information to know the status of acceptance of the company in different locations in the city.

Study to know the satisfaction of the clients of a mobile phone company

In this situation, the interview technique can be used, conducting them both to customers who buy products of the company, as well as to customers who make complaints. Thus achieving a general overview of the situation. Advantages and disadvantages of field research

Observing the state of traffic on a main avenue

This study can be carried out using the passive observation technique, obtaining data on the amount of traffic on the avenue at different times and days. This way you can get a real perspective of the congestion that happens there.

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