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Example Of Field Study Research Paper

Hello, and welcome back.

So we've been talking a lot about usability studies that occur in the lab or

another controlled setting.

But there are many contexts where you may actually want to run your study in a field


So I'll go through the process and what's involved in planning a field study.

And I'll actually do this by example.

I'll use one of the systems that I've built that I've talked about in this

course before, the ShareTable system.

And I'll talk about the deployment, the field study of the system as one example

of how you might want to go about this work.

So as I mentioned, I've already spoken about this ShareTable before, but if

you're looking at videos out of order or you're just joining us now, the ShareTable

is a system that helps parents and kids that little parts stay connected.

So commonly parents and kids may be living apart because of divorce,

separation, military, travel.

And the idea of it is it's actually kind of a piece of furniture

because the hope is to make it as easy to use as possible.

There's no buttons or keyboard in this system.

To start the connection you just open a set of cabinet doors.

That makes the table on the other side ring and if somebody there opens it,

it initiates the system.

Now what it does is it combines something like video chat, so on the monitor you'd

see the other person's face, with a ShareTable top space.

The way the ShareTable top space is created is that there's a camera and

a projector above each table.

It captures what's happening on one table and projects it on top of the other.

So in the image here, you see a paper board game being placed on one side

is being projected on the other side, and

as long as both people have something to use as tokens on their sides,

the tokens will be projected back on to the paper board game.

So, this is meant to support a lot of activities between parents and

kids, because it's kind of boring to just talk to each other, and

it's a lot more fun to do something together.

So whether it's playing a board game like the example here or

if a child puts a book on the table, the parent can see it.

Or a worksheet from school, they can help with homework.

Or if they want to have a tea party,

they can grab some cups from the kitchen and now they're having a tea party.

So we built this system, and we really wanted to see how it would be

used by families that are actually living apart, that are actually facing divorce.

So we wanted to run a field study and we had quite a few goals,

some of these were summative and some of these are formative.

On the summative side, we wanted to see whether parents and children would

spend more more time communicating when they had the ShareTable versus a baseline

comparison, versus what they did before we gave them the ShareTable system.

We also wanted to see whether children initiated more connections with

the ShareTable vs baseline because one of our goals was to make the system so easy

to use that it didn't require this sort of sophisticated scheduling or setting

settings or dealing buddy lists that young children may not be comfortable with.

So we really were hoping to see that they would initiate more of these connections.

We also wanted to use a few different validated metrics,

validated questionnaires that other people have developed to see how the ShareTable

compared with baseline in terms of emotional costs and benefits.

And in terms of how it actually affected the relationship between different family

members, both between the parents and children, but

also between the different parents in say divorced family.

We also had a few formative goals,

because we really wanted to know where to go next with the system.

We wanted to see what kinds of activities the parents and

children do with the ShareTable.

We had some ideas in mind.

We had done a brief lab study to understand kind of

how well it would work for different activities.

But we really didn't know what would happen once we would leave the system at

home with parents and kids and

just let them do whatever they wanted to do with it.

We also wanted to know what worked and didn't work, generally for the family,

so we could work to improve the system in the future.

And lastly, since I'm coming at this from a research perspective,

not necessarily from an industry perspective.

I also wanted to see, what were the promising next research challenges?

So it could actually inform my program of research, my program of study,

in the future.

So the first thing we did is we wanted to recruit some users.

And we really only had two prototypes of the system.

So we could only run two households, or one family at a time.

And we wanted to be very careful with our recruiting.

So in our recruitment calls, which we kind of had a flyer.

We had a few posts online about these.

We were really looking for families that were divorced or

separated with at least one child between the ages of seven and eleven.

So really, older than that kids can deal with regular Skype and

it's not as much of a problem, and

younger than that we weren't sure if it was going to work, though

we did have a few kind of younger siblings end up using it and it worked fairly well.

But we weren't sure in the process.

We also wanted to be able to interview the children about their experience.

And I don't know if you've ever tried interviewing a child younger than seven,

but it's definitely more of a challenge.

The other requirement for us was that the homes,

both the households needed to be at most a two hour drive from Atlanta,

because we actually had to deliver the system and set it up in their home.

And we were going back every week to do interviews.

And so it would really have been unreasonable for

the research team to drive more than two hours to visit the families.

But we still wanted the families to be at least one hour drive from each other.

Because if they, let's say, live on the same street already,

we're not really sure if the ShareTable really adds anything.

They can see each other in person almost every day.

And lastly,

was a requirement that we added after we had a few families reach out to us

who were interested but we couldn't actually set up the system in their home.

The last requirement was that high-speed internet had to be available in that area.

Now the home didn't have to high-speed internet,

we actually provided it for them.

But if there was no availability for it at all our system just wouldn't work.

And there were in fact a few rural areas and the study was done in Georgia.

A few rural areas in Georgia where a high-speed internet was

just not available at all.

Now in addition to these criteria that we actually stated up front,

there were a few kind of self-selection criteria.

So basically,

the families actually had to be willing to participate in a fairly significant study.

Because it was an 8-week study that involves significant data collection,

so it can be kind of a bit of a privacy violation.

And it included weekly interviews, so

it was quite a bit of a time commitment on the participant's part.

Even though we compensated, really for lots of busy families it's really hard to

find the time to dedicate to this kind of a study.

And the other self-selection criteria was that the families had to be low-conflict

enough that both the parents actually could agree to participate in the study.

So we weren't really looking at families where like every form of contact had

to be litigated by a judge.

I think it would be too difficult to try to deploy this kind of a system in

that setting.

So in lots of cases the families just kind of self-selected, nobody would volunteer

for the study if they didn't meet these two self-selection criteria.

But, these were quite restrictive in terms of users.

There was quite a challenge to actually recruit users for this study.

And in the end we actually ended up having to go through a professional recruitment

firm to do the recruiting for us.

Because it was just, so many constrains, so

many restraints on the kinds of families that could be in the study.

But through this process we were able to recruit two families, so four

different households to use this system for the amount of time that we wanted.

So the setting as I mentioned this was done in the the field.

So the ShareTables were actually deployed in families homes, so you see them here.

In some cases, the parents choose to put them in kids room,

in some cases they put them in kind of in a more communal family space.

So the one labeled B is in the living room and

as you see the cat has already appropriated the top shelf of the system.

And the bottom one D of is kind of in the den, the hang out spot in the house.

So it was really up to the families where they wanted to put the system.

And we made sure that we brought enough extension cables and

set up the internet in such a way that they could put it wherever they wanted.

Now to make sure that our system worked well we did provide business class

internet for each of our families.

And we did use our own router just so

we can do a little bit of computer science magic, make sure everything worked well.

And we really needed business class internet because of the upload speeds.

So typically download speeds were fine, but upload speeds are really restricted

for residential internet and it just wouldn't work as well for us.

Now, in terms of the actual methods.

So what we wanted to do is a field what's called A-B-A deployment.

So, A-B-A means that You measure some sort of a baseline for some period of time,

that's the A part.

Then you do your intervention, and you keep it there for some period of time,

that's the B part.

And then, after you remove the intervention,

you do some measures as well, so the A part.

And if your intervention is the thing that led to the change,

what you would expect is that there would be a change during the B condition, but

then that things would return to the way they were in the second A condition.

In this case,

our first A was a pre-deployment two-week baseline where we asked the parents and

kids to just do what they usually do except keep communication diaries about

any time that they used the telephone or Skype or texted or anything like that.

Then we deployed the ShareTable for four weeks and we collected a bunch of measures

during that, and finally we did a post-deployment two week contact, again,

to see what happened after the ShareTable was removed.

Now, in one of the two families, that was actually abbreviated, they had a new baby,

a new addition to the family, and so it just became really hard for

them to also do communication diaries, and this does happen in field studies.

Over a long period of time there may be major changes in the families, or

the homes, or the participants that you're studying and

you need to know that there may be some attrition.

So in terms of tasks and prompts, because we actually wanted them to use, they would

use the system if they had bought it if nobody was actually telling them how to

use it, we did not provide them with any tasks, though we did give them a manual,

which had some ideas for some ways they might use the system.

However, the families were asked to fill out short diaries after any

communication session.

So whether it's phone, text, video chat, ShareTable,

any time that they communicated during any of the sessions in our study, AB or

A, they had to fill out a short diary about it.

In terms of the metrics we collected, so during the pre-deployment two week

baseline, we collected baseline measures of relationship quality.

So we used the NRI inventory for that, it's a validated psychological inventory.

We collected these communication diaries that I just mentioned from both

the parents and the children and

we did weekly interviews just to kind of see what their experience was like.

Then during the four week ShareTable deployment, we continued collecting

communication diaries, but now that we've actually put our own system in place,

we were also able to collect text logs any time the system was in use, so

person A tried to call person B but person B didn't pick up,

that would be something we could record in the logs.

And anytime the system was actually actively in use, so both the people were

actually trying to chat, we would record video of the system use.

Now, to make sure to protect participant privacy, all of that video was actually

stored locally on the machine, and when we visited the families on the communication

areas they could note, I don't want you to watch this video,

can you delete this without watching it, and in front of them, we would delete it.

Now that only happened in a couple of cases, so generally we have video records

of everything the families did with the systems.

And again,

we did weekly interviews to understand what the experience was like for them.

And then after the deployment, we continued to collect

the communication diaries, we did weekly interviews, now we did the post measure of

relationship quality to see if the system had actually changed their relationships.

And we also asked them to fill out a validated questionnaire called effective

benefits and costs of communication technologies,

which focused on comparing different systems based on the emotional costs.

The emotional costs might be something like a feeling of obligation or

loss of privacy.

And emotional benefits, which may be things like feeling closer or having that

sense of the other person being there for you, even if you're not there in person.

So we collect all of these things, and

what I'm showing on the image here on the right is kind of the folder that I

have with all of the different scripts and protocols and

questionnaires that we had them fill out and diaries and all of the stuff.

So as you see, a lot actually goes into a field study,

you have to have a lot of these things prepared ahead of time.

You have to be pretty organized,

you want to make sure that you know what's going to happen every single week, so

every time you would go there to do a weekly interview you would have

a different script, and you would want to make sure to bring the right one.

You want to make sure that you have them fill out the right

questionnaires at the right time because if too much time passes, for

example, they might forget what it's like to use the system.

So, overall, quite a lot of work went into actually organizing this kind of study.

And lastly, I just wanted to show you an example of the diary,

the communication diaries that we used.

So we actually had two different versions, so

one was a version that we used with the parents, and

one was the version we used with the kids, I think you can guess which one is which.

So basically the kids had to circle when they talked, how they talked, so

in this case, the child has circled the phone.

They could also draw something that was different from that,

they have to say how they felt after the talking.

So in this case, the child drew, so I know it's a little bit hard to read, but

that's why we also did interviews so we could interpret these.

That's excited, that's what it says, and

the child also circled the topics that they talked about.

So in this case, they talked about how they felt, and

they also talked about earrings, so

I think the girl had just gotten her ears pierced, so she drew the topic.

And then the parents had something similar,

though they probably did less drawing, so

they said the time that they communicated the approximate length of the session,

the date, how they communicated, and what it was about, and how they felt about it.

And also, as you see here, there's this check mark box for if they didn't want us

to actually view the recording videos of that session, they could mark that, so

we got through quite a few of these diaries throughout the study.

Now, the point of this is to really just give you an example of what goes into

the field study, so I don't want to go too much into the results,

but I feel like if I didn't talk a little bit about the results,

it would just be kind of too much of a cliffhanger.

So let me give you just a little bit about what happened once we deployed the system.

So this is the results of the pre-deployment, so what you're seeing is

that for both of the families, there's generally fairly little talking.

So in a week, they were averaging, one family was at five and

the other one was about at 11 or 12 minutes of communication per week.

So this was mostly very, very short phone calls, and

none of them really used video chat regularly, it was just too hard to set up,

and so, telephone was really the technology they used the most.

And, with the pie charts, what you see is what proportion

of the sessions were actually initiated by the child.

So in the first family, it was actually all initiated by the parent,

the child didn't initiate any of the sessions.

In the second family, I think that pie slice represents one of the sessions

was initiated by the child, the rest were initiated by the parents.

And so, then we compared that to what happened after we deployed the ShareTable,

what happened with the ShareTable, and what we see is that the amount of time

spent communicating each week actually doubled, more than doubled, actually, for

both the families, and the children were initiating a lot more of the communication

sessions, though just because of kind of the social practices in the first family,

it was still very parent driven.

Their rule was that they kind of had to coordinate by phone before they could use

the ShareTable,

and so, it was still mostly the parents doing the communication,

but in the second family, it actually shifted so the kids were actually doing

more initiating than the parents were and that was interesting to see.

Now the other thing I want you to note on here is if you look at week three for

family one and week four for family two, these were the weeks that we actually

deployed the ShareTable system, and you see that there's kind of, it looks like

a pretty tall spike for those weeks, and this is what we call the novelty effect.

So we just gave them this cool new toy and they wanted to use it every day, and

they wanted to figure out how it works and

they were doing all these exciting things with it.

But then you see kind of a leveling off, so, in fact, this dip that we saw in week

four and five, and for one family, week five, for the other family,

is them trying to figure out, okay, well, we tried all the kind of cool,

quirky things that we can do with the system, how do we actually now make it

work for our family, make it work for our relationships?

And that took a little bit of figuring out for both families.

We actually see a dip in use, and then you see a plateauing as they figure it out,

they now have their practices around it,

they decide that they're going to use it once a week for a certain amount of time,

or whatever practice they come up with, and you see that leveling off again.

And this is really cool because you can't see this in a lab study.

You could only see this if you deploy a system in the field for

a longer period of time.

And so, the last element that I want to talk about a little bit is the researcher

rules, because it's also part of a user test plan.

And in this case it took a fairly large team to actually run this deployment.

So there was a research lead, in this case, this was me.

The research lead was in charge of doing things like recruitment, and

getting consent from the people that were recruited, the weekly interviews with

children, and just served as a point of contact for all the issues.

If something didn't work, if there were some questions that the participants had,

those went to the research lead.

There was also a research apprentice.

In this case, my wonderful Masters student at the time, Sanica.

And you can see more of her work in the paper that I'll reference later.

So, the research apprentice handled things like the weekly interviews with parents,

so that we could actually conduct all the interviews in parallel, so

we didn't have to have a really long visit.

And also collecting and

cleaning all the log data that was coming through the system.

Tech support lead, very important, so

doing things like doing setting up the share table,

making sure that if there was some sort of a problem that it was addressed.

This article is about the scientific method. For the military term, see Fortification.

"Fieldwork" and "Field Work" redirect here. For the novel, see Fieldwork (novel). For the book of poetry, see Field Work (poetry).

Field research or fieldwork is the collection of information outside a laboratory, library or workplace setting. The approaches and methods used in field research vary across disciplines. For example, biologists who conduct field research may simply observe animals interacting with their environments, whereas social scientists conducting field research may interview or observe people in their natural environments to learn their languages, folklore, and social structures.

Field research involves a range of well-defined, although variable, methods: informal interviews, direct observation, participation in the life of the group, collective discussions, analyses of personal documents produced within the group, self-analysis, results from activities undertaken off- or on-line, and life-histories. Although the method generally is characterized as qualitative research, it may (and often does) include quantitative dimensions.


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".[1] Fields could be education, industrial settings, or Amazonian rain forests. Field research may be conducted by zoologists such as Jane Goodall. Radcliff-Brown [1910] and Malinowski [1922] were early cultural anthropologists who set the models for future work.[2]

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.

Conducting field research[edit]

The quality of results obtained from field research depends on the data gathered in the field. The data in turn, depend upon the field worker, his or her level of involvement, and ability to see and visualize things that other individuals visiting the area of study may fail to notice. The more open researchers are to new ideas, concepts, and things which they may not have seen in their own culture, the better will be the absorption of those ideas. Better grasping of such material means better understanding of the forces of culture operating in the area and the ways they modify the lives of the people under study. Social scientists (i.e. anthropologists, social psychologists, etc.) have always been taught to be free from ethnocentrism (i.e. the belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic group), when conducting any type of field research.

When humans themselves are the subject of study, protocols must be devised to reduce the risk of observer bias and the acquisition of too theoretical or idealized explanations of the workings of a culture. Participant observation, data collection, and survey research are examples of field research methods, in contrast to what is often called experimental or lab research.

Field notes[edit]

Main article: Fieldnotes

When conducting field research, keeping an ethnographic record is essential to the process. Field notes are a key part of the ethnographic record. The process of field notes begin as the researcher participates in local scenes and experiences in order to make observations that will later be written up. The field researcher tries first to take mental notes of certain details in order that they be written down later.

Kinds of field notes[edit]

Field Note Chart

Types of Field NotesBrief Description
Jot NotesKey words or phrases are written down while in the field.
Field Notes ProperA description of the physical context and the people involved, including their behavior and nonverbal communication.
Methodological NotesNew ideas that the researcher has on how to carry out the research project.
Journals and DiariesThese notes record the ethnographer's personal reactions, frustrations, and assessments of life and work in the field.

Jot notes[edit]

The first writing that is done typically consists of jotted or condensed notes. Thus, key words or phrases are written down while the researcher is in or very close to the field. Some researchers jot field notes openly in the presence of those being studied. Adopting this practice early on enables some researchers to find that they can establish a 'note-taker' role that will be accepted or at least tolerated by those being studied. However, some researchers find that people develop expectations of what should be recorded and what should not, which can intrude upon the work being done. Other ethnographers try to avoid taking notes in the middle of scenes and experiences and instead try to place themselves on the margins of scenes and events. Others strictly avoid writing anything in the presence of those being studied. They feel that such writing can overtly remind the participants that the researcher has different commitments and priorities. Such writing can also distract the researcher from what is happening in the immediate scene in which he or she is participating. Thus, many researchers choose to make jotted notes outside the presence of those being studied. Some therefore retreat to bathrooms or stairwells in order to record field notes.[3]

Field notes proper[edit]

There are three main points regarding field notes proper. First, converting jot notes into field notes should take place as soon as possible after the events take place. Secondly, field notes should be very detailed. Thus, included in field notes should be a description of the physical context and the people involved, including their behavior and nonverbal communication. Field notes should also use words that are as close as possible to the words used by the participants. Thirdly, field notes should include thoughts, impressions and explanations on the part of the researcher. In assessing the quality of field notes, the accuracy of the description and the level of detail are of utmost importance.[4]

Methodological notes[edit]

These notes can contain new ideas that the researcher has on how to carry out the research project. Also included can be which methods are chosen, on what basis they were chosen, how they were carried out and the outcome of such methods. Methodological notes can be kept with field notes or they can be filed separately. These also serve the researcher when later writing up the methods section of a report or paper.[4]

Journals and diaries[edit]

Journals and diaries are written notes that record the ethnographer's personal reactions, frustrations, and assessments of life and work in the field. When constructed chronologically these journals provide a guide to the information in field notes and records.[5] One of the most well known diaries is that of Bronislaw Malinowski regarding his research among the Trobriand Islanders.[6] During her Pacific fieldwork Margaret Mead kept a diary and also wrote long letters to people at home which contained self-reflection that might be included in a diary.


Another method of data collection is interviewing, specifically interviewing in the qualitative paradigm. Interviewing can be done in different formats, this all depends on individual researcher preferences, research purpose, and the research question asked.

Analyzing data[edit]

In qualitative research, there are many ways of analyzing data gathered in the field. One of the two most common methods of data analysis are thematic analysis and narrative analysis. As mentioned before, the type of analysis a researcher decides to use depends on the research question asked, the researcher's field, and the researcher's personal method of choice.

Field research across different disciplines[edit]


In anthropology, field research is organized so as to produce a kind of writing called ethnography. Ethnography can refer to both a methodology and a product of research, namely a monograph or book. Ethnography is a grounded, inductive method that heavily relies on participant-observation. Participant observation is a structured type of research strategy. It is a widely used methodology in many disciplines, particularly, cultural anthropology, but also sociology, communication studies, and social psychology. Its aim is to gain a close and intimate familiarity with a given group of individuals (such as a religious, occupational, or sub cultural group, or a particular community) and their practices through an intensive involvement with people in their natural environment, usually over an extended period of time. The method originated in field work of social anthropologists, especially the students of Franz Boas in the United States, and in the urban research of the Chicago School of sociology.[7]

Traditional participant observation is usually undertaken over an extended period of time, ranging from several months to many years, and even generations. An extended research time period means that the researcher is able to obtain more detailed and accurate information about the individuals, community, and/or population under study. Observable details (like daily time allotment) and more hidden details (like taboo behavior) are more easily observed and interpreted over a longer period of time. A strength of observation and interaction over extended periods of time is that researchers can discover discrepancies between what participants say—and often believe—should happen (the formal system) and what actually does happen, or between different aspects of the formal system; in contrast, a one-time survey of people's answers to a set of questions might be quite consistent, but is less likely to show conflicts between different aspects of the social system or between conscious representations and behavior.


Field research lies at the heart of archaeological research. It may include the undertaking of broad area surveys (including aerial surveys); of more localised site surveys (including photographic, drawn, and geophysical surveys, and exercises such as fieldwalking); and of excavation.


In biology, field research typically involves studying of free-living wild animals in which the subjects are observed in their natural habitat, without changing, harming, or materially altering the setting or behavior of the animals under study. Field research is an indispensable part of biological science.

Animal migration tracking (including bird ringing/banding) is a frequently-used field technique, allowing field scientists to track migration patterns and routes, and animal longevity in the wild. Knowledge about animal migrations is essential to accurately determining the size and location of protected areas.

Earth and atmospheric sciences[edit]

In geology fieldwork is considered an essential part of training[8] and remains an important component of many research projects. In other disciplines of the Earth and atmospheric sciences, field research refers to field experiments (such as the VORTEX projects) utilizing in situ instruments. Permanent observation networks are also maintained for other uses but are not necessarily considered field research, nor are permanent remote sensing installations.


The objective of field research in economics is to get beneath the surface, to contrast observed behaviour with the prevailing understanding of a process, and to relate language and description to behavior (e.g. Deirdre McCloskey, 1985).

The 2009 Nobel Prize Winners in Economics, namely, Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson, have advocated mixed methods and complex approaches in economics and hinted implicitly to the relevance of field research approaches in economics.[9] In a recent interview Oliver Williamson and Elinor Ostrom discuss the importance of examining institutional contexts when performing economic analyses.[10] Both Ostrom and Williamson agree that "top-down" panaceas or "cookie cutter" approaches to policy problems don’t work. They believe that policymakers need to give local people a chance to shape the systems used to allocate resources and resolve disputes. Sometimes, Ostrom points out, local solutions can be the most efficient and effective options. This is a point of view that fits very well with anthropological research, which has for some time shown us the logic of local systems of knowledge — and the damage that can be done when "solutions" to problems are imposed from outside or above without adequate consultation. Elinor Ostrom, for example, combines field case studies and experimental lab work in her research. Using this combination, she contested longstanding assumptions about the possibility that groups of people could cooperate to solve common pool problems (as opposed to being regulated by the state or governed by the market.[11]

Recently Swann (2008, pp. 3–5) argued that ‘’The only way we can know something is by hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind’. If economist had followed Mill’s wise advice, we would by now be making use of an extraordinary repertoire of research methods in applied economics, including the vernacular methods described in this book’’.[12]

Edward J. Nell (1998) argued that there are two types of field research in economics. One kind can give us a carefully drawn picture of institutions and practices, general in that it applies to all activities of a certain kind of particular society or social setting, but still specialized to that society or setting. Although institutions and practices are intangibles, such a picture will be objective, a matter of fact, independent of the state of mind of the particular agents reported on. Approaching the economy from a different angle, another kind of fieldwork can give us a picture of the state of mind of economic agents (their true motivations, their beliefs, state knowledge, expectations, their preferences and values).[13]

Public health[edit]

In public health the use of the term field research refers to epidemiology or the study of epidemics through the gathering of data about the epidemic (such as the pathogen and vector(s) as well as social or sexual contacts, depending upon the situation).


Mintzberg played a crucial role in the popularization of field research in management. The tremendous amount of work that Mintzberg put into the findings earned him the title of leader of a new school of management, the descriptive school, as opposed to the prescriptive and normative schools that preceded his work. The schools of thought derive from Taylor, Henri Fayol, Lyndall Urwick, Herbert A. Simon, and others endeavored to prescribe and expound norms to show what managers must or should do. With the arrival of Mintzberg, the question was no longer what must or should be done, but what a manager actually does during the day. More recently, in his 2004 book Managers Not MBAs, Mintzberg examined what he believes to be wrong with management education today.

Aktouf (2006, p. 198) summed-up Mintzberg observations about what takes place in the field:‘’First, the manager’s job is not ordered, continuous, and sequential, nor is it uniform or homogeneous. On the contrary, it is fragmented, irregular, choppy, extremely changeable and variable. This work is also marked by brevity: no sooner has a manager finished one activity than he or she is called up to jump to another, and this pattern continues nonstop. Second, the manager’s daily work is a not a series of self-initiated, willful actions transformed into decisions, after examining the circumstances. Rather, it is an unbroken series of reactions to all sorts of request that come from all around the manager, from both the internal and external environments. Third, the manager deals with the same issues several times, for short periods of time; he or she is far from the traditional image of the individual who deals with one problem at a time, in a calm and orderly fashion. Fourth, the manager acts as a focal point, an interface, or an intersection between several series of actors in the organization: external and internal environments, collaborators, partners, superiors, subordinates, colleagues, and so forth. He or she must constantly ensure, achieve, or facilitate interactions between all these categories of actors to allow the firm to function smoothly.’’


Pierre Bourdieu played a crucial role in the popularization of fieldwork in sociology. During the Algerian War in 1958-1962, Bourdieu undertook ethnographic research into the clash through a study of the Kabyle peoples, of the Berbers laying the groundwork for his anthropological reputation. The result was his first book, Sociologie de L'Algerie (The Algerians), which was an immediate success in France and published in America in 1962. The book (‘’Algeria 1960: The Disenchantment of the World: The Sense of Honour: The Kabyle House or the World Reversed: Essays’’), published in English in 1979 by Cambridge University Press, established him as a major figure in the field of ethnology and a pioneer advocate scholar for more intensive fieldwork in social sciences. The book was based on his decade of work as a participant-observer with the Algerian society. One of the outstanding qualities of his work has been his innovative combination of different methods and research strategies as well as his analytical skills in interpreting the obtained data.

Throughout his career, Bourdieu sought to connect his theoretical ideas with empirical research, grounded in everyday life. His work can be seen as sociology of culture. Bourdieu labeled it a "Theory of Practice". His contributions to sociology were both empirical and theoretical. His conceptual apparatus is based on three key terms, namely, habitus, capital and field. Furthermore, Bourdieu fiercely opposed Rational Choice Theory as grounded in a misunderstanding of how social agents operate. Bourdieu argued that social agents do not continuously calculate according to explicit rational and economic criteria. According to Bourdieu, social agents operate according to an implicit practical logic—a practical sense—and bodily dispositions. Social agents act according to their "feel for the game" (the "feel" being, roughly, habitus, and the "game" being the field).

Bourdieu’s anthropological work was focused on the analysis of the mechanisms of reproduction of social hierarchies. Bourdieu criticized the primacy given to the economic factors, and stressed that the capacity of social actors to actively impose and engage their cultural productions and symbolic systems plays an essential role in the reproduction of social structures of domination. Bourdieu’s empirical work played a crucial role in the popularization of correspondence analysis and particularly ‘’Multiple Correspondence Analysis.’’ Bourdieu held that these geometric techniques of data analysis are, like his sociology, inherently relational. In the preface to his book ‘’The Craft of Sociology’’ Bourdieu argued that: "I use Correspondence Analysis very much, because I think that it is essentially a relational procedure whose philosophy fully expresses what in my view constitutes social reality. It is a procedure that 'thinks' in relations, as I try to do it with the concept of field."

One of the classic ethnographies in Sociology is the book Ain't No Makin' It: Aspirations & Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood by Jay MacLeod.[citation needed] The study addresses the reproduction of social inequality among low-income, male teenagers. The researcher spent time studying two groups of teenagers in a housing project in a Northeastern city of the United States. The study concludes that three different levels of analysis play their part in the reproduction of social inequality: the individual, the cultural, and the structural.[14]

Famous field-workers[edit]

In anthropology[edit]

In sociology[edit]

In management[edit]

In economics[edit]

In music[edit]


  • Abu‐Lughod, Lila (1988). "Fieldwork of a dutiful daughter." In S. Altorki & C. Fawzi El-Solh (Eds.), Arab Women in the Field: Studying Your Own Society. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
  • Akbar S. Ahmed (1984), "Al-Beruni: The First Anthropologist", RAIN 60: 9-10
  • Akerlof, G. A and Shiller, R. J. (2009) Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it Matters for Global Capitalism. Princeton University Press.
  • Aktouf, O. (2006) Le Management entre tradition et renouvellement. Montréal : Gaétan Morin
  • Andrews, P.W.S (1949). Manufacturing Business. London: Macmillan.
  • Bewley, T. (1999) Why Wages Don’t Fall during a Recession? Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
  • Blinder, A. (1998) Asking About Prices: A New Approach to Understanding Price Stickiness. Russell Sage Foundation
  • Bourdieu, P. (1979) Algeria 1960: The Disenchantment of the World: The Sense of Honour: The Kabyle House or the World Reversed: Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1979) The Inheritors: French Students and Their Relations to Culture, University of Chicago Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1977). Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P (1984) Distinction: a Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Harvard University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1990). Homo Academicus, Polity,
  • Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J. C (1990) Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (Theory, Culture and Society Series), Sage.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language and Symbolic Power, Harvard University Press 1991.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1991) The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger, Polity.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1991) The Love of Art: European Art Museums and Their Public, Stanford University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (1991) Language & Symbolic Power, Harvard University Press,
  • Bourdieu, P. and Wacquant, L. (1992) An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology University of Chicago Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. and Monique De Saint Martin, M., Jean-Claude Passeron, J.C. (1996) Academic Discourse: Linguistic Misunderstanding and Professorial Power, Polity.
  • Bourdieu, P (1998) Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action, Stanford University Press.
  • Bourdieu, P (1998) State nobility: Elite Schools in the Field of Power, Polity.
  • Bourdieu, P (1999) Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society, Polity.
  • Bourdieu, P (1999) Acts of Resistance: Against the Tyranny of the Market, New Press.
  • Bourdieu, P (2000) Pascalian Meditations, Polity.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2005)The Social Structures of the Economy. Polity.
  • Cohen, Nissim & Arieli, Tamar (2011) "Field research in conflict environments: Methodological challenges and the snowball sampling" Journal of Peace Research 48 (4): 423-436.
  • Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1940) The Nuer, a description of the modes livelihood and political institutions of a Nilotic people. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Douglas, J.D. (1976). Investigative Social Research. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Glaser, Barney G., and Anselm L. Strauss (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine.
  • Haavelmo, T. (1958)"The Role of the Econometrician in the Advancement of Economic Theory." Econometrica 26,351-35.
  • Helper, S. (2000) ‘’ Economics and Field Research: You can Observe a Lot Just by Watching.’’ American Economic Review Papers and Proceedings 90, 228-32.
  • Ho, K. (2009) on "Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Durham and London: Duke University Press.
  • Jarvie, I. C. (1967) On Theories of Fieldwork and the Scientific Character of Social Anthropology, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 34, No. 3 (Sep., 1967), pp. 223-242.
  • Kaminski, M. M ( 2004). Games Prisoners Play. Princeton University Press. I
  • Klein, L. R. (1982) "Economic Theoretic Restrictions in Econometrics." In Evaluation the Reliability of Macroeconomic Models. Edited by G.C. Chow and P. Corsi. New York: Willey.
  • Malinowski, Bronisław (1929) The sexual life of savages in north-western Melanesia: an ethnographic account of courtship, marriage and family life among the natives of the Trobriand Islands, British New Guinea. New York: Halcyon House.
  • Mead, M. (1928) Coming of age in Samoa: a psychological study of primitive youth for Western civilisation. New York: William Morrow & Co.
  • Mintzberg, H. (1973) The Nature of Managerial Work.Harpercollins College Div
  • Mintzberg, H. (2004) Managers Not MBAs: A Hard Look at the Soft Practice of Managing and Management Development. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • Mintzberg, H. (2011)Managing. Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
  • Nell, E. J. (1988) Prosperity and Public Spending: Transformational Growth and the Role of the State, London, UK: Unwin and Hyman.
  • Nell, E. J. (1992) Transformational Growth and Effective Demand, London, UK: Macmillan.
  • Nell, E. J. (1996) Making Sense of a Changing Economy. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Nell, E. J. (1998) The General Theory of Transformational Growth. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Nell, E. J. (1998) Transformational Growth and the Business Cycle, London, UK: Routledge.
  • Nell, E.J and Errouaki, K. (2008) ‘’Conceptual Analysis, Fieldwork and Model Specification: Laying Down the Blueprints for a Klein-Nell Model,’’ MS. The New School, NY.
  • Nell, E. J. and Errouaki, K. (2012) Rational Econometric Man: Transforming Structural Econometrics, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, USA: E. Elgar.
  • Nell, E. J. and Errouaki, K. (2012) Hard Drugs and Easy Money. Forthcoming
  • Renato, R. (1986) "From the door of his tent: the fieldworker and the inquisitor," in Writing culture: the poetics and politics of ethnography. Edited by J. Clifford and G. E. Marcus. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Rice, T et al. (2004), ‘Future fields: introduction ‘. Anthropology Matters Journal, Vol 6 (2).
  • Swann, P.G.M (2008) Putting Econometrics in its Place, Cheltenham, UK, E. Elgar.
  • Townsend, Sakunthasathien, and Jordan, (2013) Chronicles from the Field: The Townsend Thai Project, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.
  • Udry, Ch. (2003), ‘Fieldwork, Economic Theory and Research on Institutions in Developing Countries’, UM, Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, CT.
  • Whyte, W. F. (1955) Street Corner Society. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

See also[edit]


  1. ^Burgess, Robert G., In the Field: An Introduction to Field Research (Hemel Hempstead, U.K.: George Allen & Unwin, 1984) at 1.
  2. ^Burgress, Robert, ibid. at 12-13.
  3. ^Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (2001). "Participant Observation and Fieldnotes." In Paul Atkinson, Amanda Coffey, Sara Delamont, John Lofland, & Lyn Lofland (Eds.), Handbook of Ethnography. pp: 356-357. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  4. ^ abDeWalt, K. M., DeWalt, B. R. (2011). Participant Observation. pp: 165-168. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.
  5. ^Sanjek, Roger. (1990). "A Vocabulary for Fieldnotes." In Roger Sanjek (Ed.), Fieldnotes: The Makings of Anthropology. pp: 108. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  6. ^Malinowski, Bronislaw (1967). A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World.
  7. ^A variant of participant observation is observing participation, described by Kaminski, who explored prison subculture as a political prisoner in communist Poland in 1985.
  8. ^Price, Nancy (June 2005). "Fieldwork: It May Be More Important Than You Think"(PDF). American Institute of Professional Geologists. Retrieved 2017-10-08. 
  9. ^see Posted on October 31, 2011.
  10. ^There is a nice exchange toward the end about how much economists will miss if they ignore the knowledge offered by scholars in other fields.
  11. ^See her Nobel Prize presentation at:
  12. ^For further details see Nell and Errouaki (2012, Ch. 10).
  13. ^For further details see Nell (1998, Part II).
  14. ^MacLeod, Jay. (1995). Ain't No Makin' It: Aspirations & Attainment in a Low-Income Neighborhood. pp: 253. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Biologists collecting information in the field