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Field work is a general descriptive term for the collection of raw data. The term is mainly used in the natural and social sciences studies, such as in anthropology, folkloristics, archaeology, biology, ecology, environmental science, ethnomusicology, geography,geology, geophysics, linguistics,paleontology, and sociology, although it is also used in other subjects, such as in auditing. It is more technically known to scientific methodologists as field research. In public health the use of the term field work refers to epidemiology or the study of epidemics through the gathering of data about the epidemic (such as the pathogen and vector(s) as well as social or sexual contacts, depending upon the situation).

Field work, which is conducted in situ, can be contrasted with laboratory or experimental research which is conducted in a quasi-controlled environment. In survey research, field work refers to face-to-face or telephone interviewing. Field work can also include methods such as sociometry.

The interviewing or observation of people to learn their languages, folklore, and social structures constitutes field work. Especially when humans themselves are the subject of study, protocols must be devised to reduce the risk of observer bias and the acquisition of too theoretical or idealized explanations of the actual workings of a culture.

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