Field research involves collecting data outside the workplace, library, or in a laboratory. The exercise encompasses going out and interacting with the real world that one intends to gather information about. The ways of conducting field research may differ amongst the disciplines. For instance, biologists observe living things in their natural environment and the social scientist carry out their research by observing people as they go about with their daily activities. Field research is conducted through various ways, but for the purposes of this study, we are going to focus on observation.
Observational research involves a person observing the normal and ongoing behavior of individuals in their normal setting. The observational research is further put under different categories, including participant and non-participant observation. However, the participant observation is quite helpful, as this will ensure that the group of people being observed will not adjust their daily behavior. Therefore, there is a likelihood of getting the correct results. In criminal justice, research involves the analyst going out and observing the behavior of groups of criminals. However, this kind of research may be risky due to the nature of the group, but for this research, the risk is minimal as the people being observed are not aware and are not violent or defensive. This observational research took place at a sporting event of a basketball game. The research took place on a Saturday between 3 pm to 5 pm. The analysis took place at the Great Oaks sports center.
I chose to conduct my research at this time since I would be able to understand better how the sports center is being operated during a sporting activity and after a game is over. During the study, I observed people’s concentration on the game, technology usage, their socialization, and time people spent in the arenas well as food and drinks people were taking. Being on a weekend, the sports arena was almost full as most people were not in school while others were on a weekend break. By the time I was starting the research, the arena was full of activities as everyone was interested and concentrated on the game. However, I observed that there were people who were on the phone most of their time. Others were taking pictures of the players and recording videos as the game was going on. Additionally, there were people who seemed to have come to the arena as a group since I could see them talk to each other occasionally or make a comment about the game. On the other hand, there were individuals who had come alone since they could not talk much with people who were seated next to them.
It is worth noting that most people who were in the arena kept on taking pictures of themselves, which I assumed they would share on social media platforms. Most of the people who were using their cell phones could only be seen texting or typing something as the place was too noisy to communicate over the phone. I made these observations while seated strategically at the topmost seats where I had the best view of the field, and I could see most of the people in the arena, including the players.
During the research, I was not a participant, I was only observing how people were behaving, and I would say I was just an observer since my work was just to look at what people were doing around the sports center. For one to be a complete observer, it is important to avoid any interactions with the group of individuals being investigated (Raymond 221). Thus, I did not want to engage in a conversation with anyone as this would have compromised my observations due to their reaction, especially if some people would realize they were being observed. I observed that most people preferred to sit close to the field rather than sit at the topmost seats. I assumed the reason was that people wanted to feel being part of the game since they could get closer to the players. This was evident as the lower part of the arena was crowded compared to the middle and the upper sections. As the game was almost over, people started streaming out one by one and those who had come in as a group could be seen leaving together.
It was important for me to try as much as I could to blend with the people who were in the arena so that they could not realize that they are being observed. If people realized that they were being observed, this would have altered their behavior, thus making my sample and research irregular. Reactivity occurs when the sample or the group of people being observed change their behavior once they realize they are being monitored. It is natural for people to change their daily conduct, especially when they realize they are under scrutiny. In fact, most people tend to portray their best behaviors when they are being watched. The change of the conduct is a disadvantage to researchers, as they will not be getting the accurate results of their study. Therefore, to ensure reliability and validity of the result, it is crucial to make sure that the group under observation does not realize that they are being watched.
The reliability and validity of a research are determined while analyzing the results after an observation. As noted in the Chapter 9 of the course textbook, the validity is established by the meaning of what is observed and whether it was captured correctly. If the data collected was incorrect, it may be challenged as being inexact. One of the drawbacks of this field research is the fact that the observation was conducted for only one day and had a limitation of two hours. My main aim of the research was to observe how the people behaved during and after the sporting event. The research results could, however, be inaccurate because some people were not interested in the game, but just came to the event to pass time or were invited by their friends. In addition, since my study was limited to one day, I could have missed a significant sample of people who come to such events and how they behave. If there is an issue with reliability and validity, then the research may be considered useless.
For the 3-hour observation that I carried out my research, I noticed the field from when it was almost empty until when it filled up when the game started. When the arena was empty, I studied the layout, and this observation is regarded as environmental survey. During the survey, the observer takes into account on all the physical structure and the type of activities that will be taking place around the area (Maxfield 238).
From the study, the physical observation included scrutinizing the size of the whole area, sitting arrangement and the estimate of the number of people in the sports arena. The people who arrived early had the opportunity of sitting in the front space of the arena, and those who came later had to sit in the seats that were a bit far from the event or the game. It was crucial to observe that the arena was dangerous, especially in case of an emergency, the escape routes were not well defined, and this may lead to stampede, injuries, or even death. Additionally, the sitting arrangement did not provide enough spaces for privacy amongst the individuals who attend the events.
Throughout my observation, I made several conclusions. Firstly, I noted that people who came in groups and others arrived at the event individually. In addition, most of the people who were in groups were taking pictures together, and almost everyone took photos of the players as they were playing. At the beginning of my study, I noted that there were few people and by the time the game was starting, the arena was full. To obtain more accurate and reliable results on the given behaviors and environment components and characteristics of individuals the research should, therefore, be carried out on a different day of the week when there is a sporting event. Indeed, this will help the analyst to understand the person’s behaviors.
Carrying out this observation made me have a better understanding of how the field research should be carried out and the notions of field research like surveys and how a complete observer produces results from the specific way of carrying out research. The research that I carried out could provide better understanding of how people interact in different environmental situations, and social problem-solving.
Gold, Raymond L. “Roles in Sociological Field Observations.” Social Forces, vol. 36, no. 3
mar. 1958, pp. 217-223
Maxfield, Michael G., and Earl R. Babbie. Basics of Research Methods for Criminal Justice and Criminology. Cengage Learning, 2016.