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Field Notes on Science & Nature

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  222 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Pioneering a new niche in the study of plants and animals in their native habitat, Field Notes on Science and Nature allows readers to peer over the shoulders and into the notebooks of a dozen eminent field workers, to study firsthand their observational methods, materials, and fleeting impressions.

What did George Schaller note when studying the lions of the Serengeti? Wha
Hardcover, 297 pages
Published May 30th 2011 by Harvard University Press (first published May 15th 2011)
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Jun 26, 2012 Sher rated it it was amazing
Book 47 2012 Reading Challenge -- Twelve prestigious scientists in various fields explain how and why they keep field journals. Some also sketch. The volume is so valuable to me, because it has so many ideas for keeping field journals. Although slanted slightly toward the professional, amateur naturalists will find this volume helpful. Each scientist also shares pages from their journal, so the reader can see an amazing array of approaches to field note taking. In the end, it seems to me that ta ...more
Jun 17, 2011 Melody rated it liked it
Shelves: nature-nonfic
I loved the reproduced journal pages, which were absolutely riveting. Twelve different field notebooks, twelve different ways of seeing the world, twelve different ways of doing science. Brilliant.

The text was less interesting. Some of the scientists talked about their own personal journaling processes, which was great. Some of them nattered on about their chosen fields, or how I should keep my own personal field notebooks. Some of them were good writers, some of them were not.

The concept is wo
Nov 03, 2012 Lichia rated it liked it
The first half of the essays in this collection were delightful, philosophical, and provided a wonderful journey into the minds of brilliant scientists through their field notes and sketchbooks. Should this book have ended here, I would have rated it 4 to 5 stars. Unfortunately, in the second half the essays became progressively drier, and should have really been published as separate collection of essays entitled "Methods of keeping scientific field notes". This might be useful reading for thos ...more
Dec 29, 2016 Sean rated it liked it
I had the impression this consisted of scientists talking about their work in the context of their field notes. But it's less for a reader interested in science and methodology than it is for students who need to be convinced of the utility of taking field notes, and how best to take them. Which I am not. So...seems like a well put together book I am not the audience for.
Katharine Ott
Aug 01, 2011 Katharine Ott rated it it was amazing
“Field Notes on Science & Nature” – edited by Michael R Canfield and published in 2011 by Harvard University Press. This was a fascinating glimpse into the ways scientists use field notes and other methods of recording their observations. A dozen researchers from different specializations contributed both discussion and striking examples of their journals and notes, many times including detailed maps, sketches, and full-blown paintings.

Common refrains are: “meticulous record keeping” is of p
Simon Dobson
Dec 30, 2012 Simon Dobson rated it it was amazing
An absolutely delightful exploration of the art and science of scientific field notebooks, why and how to keep them. Packed with practical insight and also with images from practitioners' own notebooks. Some of the anecdotes make the book worthwhile on their own: the one that stood out for me was Thomas Jefferson's devotion to weather observation being so intense that he made four entries on the day he was also drafting the American Declaration of Independence.

A lot of the pleasure comes form th
Jan 18, 2014 Ninakix rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-2014
I liked this book just for making me think about something that I don't normally think about. One of the things it made me think about is the degree to which scientists think of field notes as being supplementary to data, and that those observations and experiences may we worthwhile to generations of future scientists. What I find interesting is that most professions, especially web designers, don't think this way about their own work. Other than that, the illustrations are beautiful, and I real ...more
Alan Williams
May 31, 2011 Alan Williams rated it it was amazing
Shelves: natural-history
This is one of my most memorable books of 2011, both in terms of the book itself, but also the memories it evoked of field work that I have been involved in, and the field notebooks that I still have to this day, although I think many of them are still in an attic somewhere.

This book covers all sorts of field "journals" from the traditional paper and pen/cil to digital and computerised. It includes insights, including reproductions of the journals themselves, from some very famous and eminent na
Sara G
Jan 28, 2012 Sara G rated it really liked it
This book is a great introduction to the different perspectives that scientists have on their field notes. What it is NOT is a mostly graphical work showing those field notes. Don't get me wrong, this book is beautiful, even its delicate, off-white pages of just text. The focus is on the personal narratives about working in the field, however, not on the artistic side of field notes.

There is a great essay by Jenny Keller called "Why Sketch?" that provides advice on keeping a more aesthetically p
Mar 31, 2012 Ed rated it really liked it
This is an anthology of commentary on the role of field notes and field notebooks in contemporary science. Each chapter is written by a different scientist. Most of the chapters are interesting to a lay reader with an interest in science. A small number of them are very specific to working scientists in a field similar to the author. Each chapter contains images of the notes of the author or the notes of famous naturalists from history.
Oct 13, 2015 Megan rated it really liked it
Each of the chapters in this book gave some really great insight into the possibilities and advantages with keeping field notes. It's another book that is helping me figure out my focus, finding that perfect science/art balance, and I really enjoyed reading it. The examples shown that included drawings, sketches, photos and maps were great inspiration for anyone who likes the concept of field notes.
Sep 19, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it
Interesting book on the rationale for keeping a field book or nature journal. I'm not a scientist, but just a budding amateur naturalist. Based on the book, I plan to keep a field book and the last essay by Erick Greene gives the Best Practices for keeping a field book (starting on page 260)! So get out and enjoy the natural world!
Dec 30, 2011 Rebekah rated it it was amazing
Pretty much a must read for anyone who likes nature and observing, from those just doing it for fun to those doing it as a career. Lots of different input from lots of different people and backgrounds all talking about how they keep their info straight. Lots of tips on how to organize, what to have in the book and what materials you might need. Great book.
Dec 24, 2014 Zerah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
invaluable for nature enthusiasts and field scientists alike

If you are a nature enthusiast or a field scientist, the stories, methods and descriptions in the volume speak greatly towards preserving our moment in historical science observation and the importance of keeping field notes of our observations.
Apr 30, 2014 Menno rated it really liked it
This was a one-of-a-kind book. What a great idea to celebrate that long naturalist's tradition of making notes in the field. The passion of the well-selected authors is tangible, and they manage to conjure up images of those best of times: ones spent in the field. It made me rethink my own note-keeping habits and cherish the small row of field books I keep in my office.
Mar 01, 2013 Kit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes it feels like every inch of the planet we live on has already been dug up and explored in exhaustive detail. But it's just not true. Part of being present in the world is to observe the things in your own backyard, to ask questions, to interact with science and nature, and document it all in a field notebook.

This book has some of the most beautiful illustrations I have ever seen.
Rift Vegan
Oct 02, 2011 Rift Vegan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011

Enjoyed this book. I especially liked the "Why Sketch?" essay by Jenny Keller, a real artist. (heh) and the "Note-Taking for Pencilophobes" was also so interesting, by a guy who developed his own database software.

Jul 14, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
I found this book about botanical field books extremely interesting covering areas ornithology, entomology, ecology, paleontology, anthropology, botany and animal behavior. Nice illustrations of different field book entries.
Mar 02, 2016 Frank rated it it was amazing
Must read for anyone interested in keeping field notes.
Nov 29, 2012 Rachael rated it it was amazing
diverse perspectives, helped me think about my own scientific note taking, gave me ideas for improvement
Wonderful homework as I prepared for my next session of "Wenatchee Naturalists".
Chapters written by 12 leading conservation biologists...all my heros!
Jun 14, 2011 Millie rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
An excellent book, and one I think should be on the reading list of every budding Natural History student.
Laura Harris
Did not finish.
John Gruber
John Gruber rated it it was amazing
Aug 19, 2015
Mike rated it really liked it
May 17, 2013
Kristal rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2011
nacyot rated it really liked it
Jan 07, 2017
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Nov 04, 2012
Travis rated it really liked it
May 16, 2012
Adam Wolf
Adam Wolf rated it really liked it
Nov 15, 2013
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