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Selection of Basic Research Method- Field study, Laboratory Study, Survey Method, Observational Method

Basic Research is the research to find the basic knowledge or to refine the basic knowledge. Basic research is also called pure research and fundamental research.

The basic purpose of this research is to expand the knowledge.

Basic research can be descriptive, explanatory or exploratory. Mostly basic research is the explanatory research.

Basic research creates new ideas, new principles, new theories that are not immediately applied in the practical life. But later this basic research helps in applied research where scientist uses this basic research to utilize it in the practical life.

Field Studies

Field studies involve collecting data outside of an experimental or lab setting. This type of data collection is most often done in natural settings or environments and can be done in a variety of ways for various disciplines. Field studies are known to be expensive and timely; however, the amount and diversity of the data collected can be invaluable.

Field studies collect original or unconventional data via face-to-face interviews, surveys, or direct observation. This research technique is usually treated as an initial form of research because the data collected is specific only to the purpose for which it was gathered. Therefore, it is not applicable to the general public.

Methods of Field Research

Field research is typically conducted in 5 distinctive methods. They are:

(i) Direct Observation

In this method, the data is collected via an observational method or subjects in a natural environment. In this method, the behavior or outcome of situation is not interfered in any way by the researcher. The advantage of direct observation is that it offers contextual data on people, situations, interactions and the surroundings. This method of field research is widely used in a public setting or environment but not in a private environment as it raises an ethical dilemma.

(ii) Participant Observation

In this method of field research, the researcher is deeply involved in the research process, not just purely as an observer, but also as a participant. This method too is conducted in a natural environment but the only difference is the researcher gets involved in the discussions and can mould the direction of the discussions. In this method, researchers live in a comfortable environment with the participants of the research, to make them comfortable and open up to in-depth discussions.

(iii) Ethnography

Ethnography is an expanded observation of social research and social perspective and the cultural values of an entire social setting. In ethnography, entire communities are observed objectively. For example, if a researcher would like to understand how an Amazon tribe lives their life and operates, he/she may chose to observe them or live amongst them and silently observe their day-to-day behavior.

(iv) Qualitative Interviews

Qualitative interviews are close-ended questions that are asked directly to the research subjects. The qualitative interviews could be either informal and conversational, semi-structured, standardized and open-ended or a mix of all the above three. This provides a wealth of data to the researcher that they can sort through. This also helps collect relational data. This method of field research can use a mix of one-on-one interviews, focus groups and text analysis.

(v) Case Study

A case study research is an in-depth analysis of a person, situation or event. This method may look difficult to operate, however, it is one of the simplest ways of conducting research as it involves a deep dive and thorough understanding the data collection methods and inferring the data.

Steps in Conducting Field Research

Due to the nature of field research, the magnitude of timelines and costs involved, field research can be very tough to plan, implement and measure. Some basic steps in the management of field research are:

  1. Build the Right Team: To be able to conduct field research, having the right team is important. The role of the researcher and any ancillary team members is very important and defining the tasks they have to carry out with defined relevant milestones is important. It is important that the upper management too is vested in the field research for its success.
  2. Recruiting People for the Study: The success of the field research depends on the people that the study is being conducted on. Using sampling methods, it is important to derive the people that will be a part of the study.
  3. Data Collection Methodology: As spoken in length about above, data collection methods for field research are varied. They could be a mix of surveys, interviews, case studies and observation. All these methods have to be chalked out and the milestones for each method too have to be chalked out at the outset. For example, in the case of a survey, the survey design is important that it is created and tested even before the research begins.
  4. Site Visit: A site visit is important to the success of the field research and it is always conducted outside of traditional locations and in the actual natural environment of the respondent/s. Hence, planning a site visit along with the methods of data collection is important.
  5. Data Analysis: Analysis of the data that is collected is important to validate the premise of the field research and decide the outcome of the field research.
  6. Communicating Results: Once the data is analyzed, it is important to communicate the results to the stakeholders of the research so that it could be auctioned upon.


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