Gathering research

All fieldwork requires data to be collected. Careful consideration of your research topic should enable a variety of data to be gathered.

Mapping urban land use
Mapping urban land use

It is important that you can explain why your chosen methods of data collection are suitable for your study. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the data collection, along with possible improvements or extensions. It is acceptable to talk about weaknesses, as long as improvements can be suggested.

If you use secondary data sources such as websites or textbooks, you should be able to discuss the reliability of these sources e.g. are they up-to-date or do they contain biased information that may skew the results?

Data can either be:

  • human – information about people, eg cities and tourism
  • physical – information about natural landscapes, eg rivers and coasts

Data can also be either:

  • primary – information that is collected first-hand, eg tallies, measurements and photographs.
  • secondary - information that someone else has previously collected and made available, eg from maps, websites or textbooks.

Finally, data will also either be:

  • quantitative – information that can be measured and written down with numbers.
  • qualitative – information that describes but does not measure.

Fieldwork involves the collection of information or data. Quantitative data usually consists of factual information that can be counted and used in a study. Qualitative data is more opinion-based, but is still useful for geographical investigations.