Field research

Field research

Field research/primary market research has traditional been thought different from methods of research conducted in a laboratory or academic setting. It was developed originally from anthropology and is sometimes know as participant research, or as ethnography in anthropology. It has been adapted to the business world as well as some of this article points out.

It is less technically known as field work, a term originating in farm and plantation labor, and a term sometimes used to refer to the temporary fortifications constructed prior to battle.

Participant observation, data collection, and survey research are examples of field research, in contrast to what is often called experimental or lab research.

History of Field Research

Field research has a long history. Cultural anthropologists have long used field research to study other cultures. Although the cultures do not have to be different, this has often been the case in the past with the study of so called primitive cultures, and even in sociology the cultural differences have been ones of class. The work is done... in "'Fields' that is circumscribed areas of study which have been the subject of social research". [Burgess, Robert G., "In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research" (Hemel Hempstead, U.K.: George Allen & Unwin, 1984) at 1.] Fields could be education, industrial settings, or Amazonian rain forests. Likewise field research could be done by zoologists such as Jane Goodal. Radcliff-Brown [1910] and Malinowski [1922] [Burgress, Robert, ibid. at 12-13] were early cultural anthropologists who set the stage for future work.

Business use of field research is an applied form of anthropology and is as likely to be advised by sociologists or statisticians in the case of surveys.

Consumer marketing field research is the primary marketing technique used by businesses to research their target market.


Field research involves the collection of primary data or information that is new. This is collected through surveys and questionnaires that are made out specifically for a purpose.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Field Research:

Closer to real world conditions.

The business can design the research in the best way to discover the particular information required

The business can be sure that the information gathered is up to date

Possibly may be confidential

Disadvantages of Field Research:

It takes time for the business to gather the information

Likely to be of a small sample size due to the high costs and time it takes

This is also costly and time consumingwhere are all the methods???


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