Observation Notes

Make contextual observation highly efficient in complex field settings

applied for





also called

Field Notes

what is it

Writing notes during observations sessions help make the most out of that research activity, making sure to capture insights as well as data concerning what’s happening around (e.g. how many times an action is repeated, how long it takes, steps covered, etc.). Preparing a dedicated support such as a printed grid or notebook with specific investigation areas to fill during the session could be valuable to guide the researcher by suggesting data points to capture, and so avoid to forget any important aspects.

use it to

Align different team members on the same methodology for data collection and be able to run multiple observation sessions in parallel.

remember to

Go for a convenient format to be used while standing or moving on the site (e.g. small printed booklet with spiral binding).

case studies


feature image of 'Running observations in construction sites and wind plants' case study

Example by oblo

Running observations in construction sites and wind plants

How to collect research data in a complex and dangerous environment


Conducting field research in a complex environment like in a construction site can be challenging due to its general complexity and dangerousness, considering the enormous size of the area to cover and the variety of dynamics and behaviors to observe.

In order to guide the researchers and help them stay focused in this complex environment, it was very useful to prepare a customized notebook for the fieldwork. The notebook was designed according to the characteristics of the constriction site and helped the researcher to better structure annotations without losing time and attention during the visit. The format (printed A5 booklet with spiral binding) made it convenient to use even when standing or moving from one place to another within the site.

what is interesting

The observation notebook helped the research team to take as much as possible out of the observation session, giving a structure that support focusing on one element-at-a-time, without forgetting any important data point. It’s was also useful to align different team members on the same methodology for insight collection, and enable multiple research sessions in parallel.

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