ABSTRACT

Field research is the process of learning about a community, neighborhood, or environs through first-hand observations. It requires the investigator to have a purposeful strategy before going out to the study site. Planners choose field research strategies to obtain data that are context-specific. This method assumes that the specific problems planners research are embedded in a larger system of “interrelated parts,” and that by researching the larger context, the planner gains a better understanding of the problem. Field research strategies are commonly divided into three types: non-participant observation, participant observation, and full participant observation. Each of these types of field research strategies comes with its own research perspective and levels of obtrusiveness and analysis. A site reconnaissance investigation entails a planner walking several blocks in a neighborhood, business district, or park, and recording first-hand impressions.