This paper is going to examine field research and web-based research as two methods of research. Field research involves collection and analysis of information outside the workplace. The researcher identifies the topic of research and goes to the field to collect the information in the real world. This method involves many ways of collecting data. It may be from simple observation of the subjects in their natural environment (Emerson, 2001). In other cases, the researcher has to target specific subjects using tools such as interviews, questionnaires, or focus group discussions. In other cases, the researcher might integrate themselves with the target subjects and live the way the subjects live. This results in the researcher collecting first hand and unbiased data. Usually, the quality of a field research depends on the quality and quantity of the data gathered. This depends a lot on the researcher and their ability to observe phenomena that might be ignored by people. It is also important that the researcher be open to new ideas (Rugg, 2007).
This is very important in the field as it allows the researcher to adapt in order to get as much quality data as possible. For example, in a household survey, a researcher might realize that the target population is not available during the day. In order to get the data, the researcher might decide to visit people at their places of work or change the hours where they visit the homes. The major advantage of field research is that the researcher is able to collect first-hand information. The major demerit is the biasness of the researcher. This might result in biased results. When conducting field information, it is important that the subject is not aware that they are being observed. If they have the knowledge that they are being observed, it might result in them trying to act and the results of the observation will therefore, not be accurate (Emerson, 2001).
Web-based research involves using information from the internet to conduct a research. The internet contains a lot of information on any given topic. In this case, a researcher identifies a topic of interest. Then the researcher searches for relevant information on the internet. With the numerous sources available, the researcher sifts through and determines a number of the most relevant sources (White, 2013). Web-based research is different from leisure browsing. This is because it has to be focused and unbiased. In addition to the numerous sources available, the researcher is free to use other internet resources such as internet discussion groups to collect data. Another key feature of internet research is that the researcher uses data that is freely available. This defers from library research in that the resources available are not limited to published texts. Web-based research has many merits and also demerit (White, 2013).
The most important merit is the immediacy of the results. When data is received, it can be retrieved quickly. The internet is also a free place and most of the information needed is available for free. Due to the vast amounts of information available, the quality of the research can be of very high quality (Rugg, 2007). However, this is not usually true. This brings to the demerits of web-based research. Usually, it is difficult to ascertain the credentials of the author of a text. Typically, when you search the internet, thousands of results appear. It is difficult for the researcher to determine the best sources. This is because the results that appear at the top may not necessarily be the best results. It is also difficult to avoid bias in web-based research (White, 2013).
This is because the researcher relies on information from third parties. It is difficult to determine whether the author was biased or not. The most important tool in web-based research is the search tool. This is the field where the researcher enters the topic to research. It is important to know the most efficient keywords and procedures to follow. This results in the most relevant information being realized. Meta search engines are also an important tool. This enables the researcher to enter the query once and the engine searches multiple engines for the relevant results. When a researcher gets the results they want, it is important that they look at website authorship. This is important when ascertaining the quality of the information contained. The researcher can use internet research tools that enable the m to capture the results they obtained.
During the research the researcher has to keep a record of the work they are doing. This is where ethnography plays a very important role (Ferrell, 1999). This is the science of recording information by forms of graphs and writing.
During the actual research, the researcher jots notes that are usually condensed due to the time limitation. Afterwards, the researcher expounds on the results in order to write the complete field notes. Using these notes, the researcher is then able to analyze the results of the research. Ethnography is an important part of communication studies. It is regarded as a research tool as well as a method to display the results of a study. Ethnography is important as it is the means that the results of a research are given (Ferrell, 1999).
Encoding and decoding media messages are important in web-based research. This is because every media message is targeted at an audience. It is important for the researcher to identify the context of the message so as to understand its meaning. When a message is sent, different people can interpret it in many different ways. It is therefore important for the researcher to decode the message correctly in order to get the information correctly. In simple cases, the timing of the information is important as time is an important part of information. It is important for a researcher to understand the prevailing factors at the time to understand the information. Language may seem similar but the context can change in different cultures. For example, American and British English may have different terms for the same item (Marlow, 2011).
The same words may also mean different things in this context. It is therefore important for the researcher to decode the message correctly. Advertisements may also give layered meanings and it is up to the researcher to decode the message correctly. Hegemonic position in encoding and decoding a message is where the sender and the receiver of the message are in the same culture. This means that the message is direct and will be understood as it is by the receiver. Adaptive position is where the encoder and decoder are not of the same cultural background. This means that the receiver has to adapt the message to their background in order to understand the message (Bernard, 2011).
Normally, the type of research determines the research methods to be used. Some research methods are suited to some forms of research than others. It is important for the researcher to look at the various research methods and determine the method that is best suited to the research they are conducting. Ultimately, the type of research being conducted will determine the research method chosen. When the research requires a lot of information that has been studied before, web-based research is appropriate due to the large amounts of data available on a large variety of topics. Field research is appropriate where first hand data is required (Marlow, 2011).
The method of collecting data chosen will depend on the type of information required. Observation is suitable in some cases where no direct feedback is required. Interviews and questionnaires are better suited where the researcher requires a direct response from the subjects. Quantitative methods are more suitable when measuring variables or verifying existing theories and hypotheses. The data gathered is then used to formulate a new hypothesis (Bernard, 2011). Qualitative methods are suitable where the research seeks to understand a belief or experience. These are normally intangible things that can be best understood by using qualitative methods. These methods can be used together where the researcher wants to confirm one hypothesis using different methods. For example, people can be asked to fill questionnaires which are a quantitative method. A sample can then be selected from the respondents in to be interviewed, which is a qualitative method. Overall, it is the type of information that is needed that eventually determines the method of research to be used (Bernard, 2011).
Emerson, R. M. 2001. Contemporary field research: Perspectives and formulations. Prospect Heights, Ill: Waveland Press.
Ferrell, J. 1999. Ethnography at the edge: Crime, deviance, and field research. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.
Bernard, H. R. 2011. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Lanham, Md: AltaMira Press.
Rugg, G. 2007. A gentle guide to research methods. Maidenhead [u.a.: McGraw-Hill/Open Univ. Press.
Marlow, C. 2011. Research methods for generalist social work. Belmont, CA: Thomson Brooks/Cole
White, T. L. 2013. Research methods. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.