A field diary is a document, usually, a simple notebook, in which the researcher writes down relevant information about data collected from anywhere.
The term journal is used because this type of document has a similar function to that of a personal journal. The word field is used because the diary entries are made in the context of fieldwork, that is, a place that experiences a series of experiences. In this sense, the term field refers to a classroom, an outdoor place, an area of nature or urban, finally, any place where a research can be carried out.
The field diary has a specific role in the investigation process.
Probably any zoologist, botanist, anthropologist or archaeologist uses a field diary in their research activity . They record in this diary everything that will later be analyzed in their conventional workplace or laboratory.
In the diary, concrete data are collected, situations are projected, sketches are made, ideas are written down, in a nutshell, information that may be relevant in the investigation process is recorded on a sheet of paper . In this sense, the field diary is a working tool for most scientists who need to know a place directly and not just from a theoretical perspective. It can be said that this tool allows you to obtain a diagnosis of what is being studied, whether groups of animals, plants, archaeological remains or human collectives,
The unscientific aspect of a field diary
There is no single field diary template. In fact, each researcher can use it in different ways. Its use is usually aimed at obtaining data that are strictly objective and of scientific value . However, on certain occasions, these notebooks are incorporated into a series of subjective issues, especially the researcher’s personal impressions. It should be taken into account that many investigation works end up becoming literary essays, whose subjective elements serve to adorn rigorous investigation.
The example of Charles Darwin’s diaries
Charles Darwin was the English naturalist who developed the theory of natural selection and is known as the father of the theory of evolution . To elaborate his theory, he traveled for years to different places on the planet.
On his trip, Darwin took a field diary (also known as a travel diary) to record a series of strictly scientific data and, at the same time, his personal experiences. In this way, the reader of his work can get to know the theoretical issues of this scientific approach and its historical and personal context of the research carried out.
In his reports, Darwin is seen as a naturalist and historian, that is, a scientist who observes nature and, at the same time, a chronicler of his time who comments on everything that happens around him.