Field management is the process of planning, monitoring and overseeing primary data collection activities. Correct and careful management of fieldwork activities and field staff is essential to completing data collection on time, on budget, without missing observations, and at high quality. Without direct (and usually intensive) supervision of these critical aspects, unknown errors can enter the dataset. If these errors are made systematically by the data collection team, they can induce biases of unknown size and direction into the estimates of program effects for even the best-executed interventions.
- Field management is a key piece of any evaluation; it ensures timely, consistent and accurate data collection.
- Insufficient supervision of field management aspects can result into systematic errors in the dataset and biased estimators.
Aspects of Field Management
Field management activities can be divided into three broad areas:
- Fieldwork organization - Planning all details of fieldwork, defining how the survey will be implemented, and piloting questionnaires and field protocols.
- Field staff management - Selection, training and supervision of field staff, including enumerators, contractors and survey firms.
- Data Quality Assurance - Designing protocols and quality control methods to monitor ongoing data collection and ensure data consistency and quality.
The following steps are essential to ensure good field management:
- Developing clear, detailed Survey Protocols
- Conducting a comprehensive Survey Pilot
- Selecting field staff and training enumerators
- Creating a Data Quality Assurance Plan
- Conducting Back Checks
- Monitoring Data Quality while data collection is ongoing
- DIME's Planning for, Preparing & Monitoring Household Surveys
- Preparing for Data Collection
- Preparing for the survey checklist
- Random audio audits
- Checklist: Preparing for a Survey Pilot
- Field Coordinator
- Piloting Survey Protocols
- Structuring a Survey Pilot
- Survey Budget
- Survey Firm Procurement
- Survey Firm TOR
- Survey Pilot Participants
- Survey Protocols
- Timeline of Survey Pilot
- Training Guidelines: Content and Structure