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Field research is a general term for research conducted in a natural setting and stands in contrast to research carried out in a laboratory or academic setting. It was developed originally from anthropology and is sometimes known as participant observation, or as ethnography in anthropology.

Now much of ethology and developmental psychology research employs this approach, as does industrial psychology and market research

It is less technically known as field work.

Naturalistic observation and survey research are examples of field research,

Application in market research[]

Field research is the primary marketing technique used by businesses to research their target market.


  • The business can design the research in the best way to discover the particular information required
  • The business can be sure that the information gathered is up to date


Disadvantages of field research are that it takes time to gather the information and that it is likely to be of a small sample size due to the high costs and time it takes. There are also logistical diffficulties involved.