What hinders the outcomes of a historical field research?

Fieldwork is the mainstay anchor of a historical work. Its success is limited by a plethora of factors, and even a professional can be guided by an array of these circumscribes below:

  • Political instability and political restrictions

In some extreme cases, the state tends to be vicious to all researchers, but this praxis can be followed by media censorship thus limiting the number of sources available for the historian’s quest, howsoever, that circumscribe the output of the research. To illustrate, the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ) only allows a historian to access a document only after twenty-five years of its authorship.

  • Facing antagonism, enmity and hostility from the people who controls and resides the field of study:

A sense of disliking the inquirer or the topic which s/he (the inquirer) is asking may arise within the informant community and this defect is by no means a popular one. In apprehension of research ethics, the researcher has nothing to do to solve this defect —— that is one should not force the informants into action. Racial and ethnic tensions and divulge themselves disrupting the link between the inquirer and the informant.

  • Limited funding

Most complicated research projects with a special motive — to bring every fact that counts home, requires a proper funding. This counts everything that concerns the well-being of a researcher (accommodation and transport etc.), especially when done outside the borders.

  • Availability of tools.

Every craftsman needs reliable tools to complete every task that confronts him, a historian is not an exception to this. A toolbox, a backpack, or whatever, should comprise of cameras, diaries, journals, voice recorders and any essentials one may think of. If all these are missing rightly when the task to serve is in the hands of the historian the outcomes of the research will still remain limited in scope and usefulness.

  • Geographical factors, typography and weather

Geographical features do not only describes the setting of the people or anything attracting a historian’s face but also circumscribes the movements and moral force of a researcher in the area.

  • The level of personal acquaintance to the region of study.

Before venturing into a research tour most historian sees it as a necessity to find an individual who is literate and well acquainted with the field of study. Without a local native involved, it is usually laborious and often unfruitful to accomplish research in a foreign region.

  • Hospitality, transport and accommodation.

  • Seeming forgetful tendencies amongst the informants.

  • Legal factors, clearance and license obtention.

  • Norms, beliefs, gatherings and sexes of the informants.

  • Language, religion and cultural factors.


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