Field survey is defined as collection and gathering of information at the local level by conducting primary surveys. The primary surveys are also called field surveys. These are an essential component of geographic enquiry and are carried out through observation, interviews, sketching, measurement, etc.
Social & Economic studies are conducted in definitive geographical parameters. Geography being a field science, a geographical enquiry almost always needs to be supplemented through well-planned field surveys. Such surveys enhance our understanding about patterns of spatial distributions, their associations and relationships both at macro as well as micro level.
Field surveys help in comprehending the prevailing situation and processes in totality and at the ground level.Field surveys facilitate the collection of local level information that is not available through secondary sources.
So to summarize, Field surveys are required so that the problem under investigation is studied in depth as per the predefined objectives.
Usually the steps involved in a field survey are;
Step 1. Defining the Problem:
First the problem to be studied is defined precisely.
Step 2. Objectives:
Objectives and purposes of the survey are outlined and requirements delineated in accordance of these, suitable tools of acquisition of data and methods of analysis
Step 3. Scope:
Scope of survey is;
- the geographical area studied
- time period of enquiry
- (if required) themes of studies
Step 4. Tools and Techniques of information collection:
Various types of tools are required to collect information. These include:
i. Recorded and Published Data: This data is collected from government agencies, non-governmental organizations and it provides base information about the problem. For example, on one hand, Local Government Office can provide information about households, persons while physical features like relief, drainage, vegetation, land use,
etc. can be traced out from the topographical maps.
ii. Field Observations: These are very important & necessary inputs which help in finding the characteristics and associations of geographic phenomena. Here sketching and photography are helpful tools.
iii. Measurement: Some of field surveys demand on site measurement of
Objects and events. It involves use of appropriate equipment including state-of-art equipment like DGPS.
iv. Interviewing: In all field surveys, personal interviews are needed to
gather information about social issues, problems, practical difficulties through recording the experiences and knowledge of each individual.
Step 5. Compilation and Computation:
Information thus collected is organized systematically so as to make a meaningful interpretation. Then analysis of all the information collected is undertaken to achieve the set objectives.
Notes, field sketches, photographs, case studies, etc. are first organized according to theme & subthemes of the study. Similarly, questionnaire and schedule based information are tabulated on the same pattern.
Step 6. Cartographic Applications:
Maps and diagrams are used for giving visual Impressions of variations in the phenomena.
Sep 7. Presentations:
The field study report is prepared in concise form and it contains all the details of the procedures followed, methods, tools and techniques employed. At the end of the report, the summary of the findings of the investigation is provided.