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10.2: Pros and Cons of Field Research
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- Identify and explain the strengths of field research.
- Identify and explain the weaknesses of field research.
Strengths of Field Research
- It yields very detailed data.
- It emphasizes the role and relevance of social context.
- It can uncover social facts that may not be immediately obvious or of which research participants may be unaware.
Weaknesses of Field Research
- It may lack breadth; gathering very detailed information means being unable to gather data from a very large number of people or groups.
- It may be emotionally taxing.
- Documenting observations may be more challenging than with other methods.
- Strengths of field research include the fact that it yields very detailed data, it is designed to pay heed to social context, and it can uncover social facts that are not immediately obvious.
- Weaknesses of field research include that researchers may have to sacrifice breadth for depth, the possibility that the research will be emotionally taxing, and the fact that documenting observations can be challenging.
- In your opinion, what is the most important strength of field research? What do you view as its greatest weakness? Explain your position.
- Find an article reporting results from field research. You can do this by using the Sociological Abstracts database. How do the authors describe the strengths and weaknesses of their study? Are any of the strengths or weaknesses described in this section mentioned in the article? Are there additional strengths or weaknesses not mentioned in this section?