Archaeological data collection: Coastal geography and water conditions can make discovery of cultural resources challenging; a diverse array of field methods have been developed and refined over the years to increase detection.
Ethnographic and other social scientific research typically involves the observation of and interaction with persons or a group being studied in the group's own environment, often for long periods of time. It is the systematic study of people and living cultures, and is designed to explore cultural phenomena where the researcher observes society from the point of view of the subject of the study. An ethnography is a means to represent graphically and in writing the culture of a group. The resulting field study or a case report reflects the knowledge and the system of meanings in the lives of a cultural group. An ethnography records all observed behavior and describes all symbol-meaning relations, using concepts that avoid causal explanations.
Impacts, both natural and man-made: Examples of naturally occurring events that can alter a submerged site include storm activities, scouring, erosion, burial, and habitat creation. Man-made impacts can be severe and encompass diver-related artifact recovery, vessel collision, fishing, pollution, salvage, navigation obstruction removal, and construction activities such as channel dredging.
A number of critical socioeconomic and cultural indicators are often measured, analyzed, and monitored: local marine resource use patterns, local values and beliefs about marine resources, level of understanding of human impacts to resources, perceptions of seafood availability, perceptions of local resource harvest, perceptions of non-market and non-use value, material style of life, quality of human health, household income distribution by source, household occupational structure, community infrastructure and business, number and nature of markets, stakeholder knowledge of natural history, distribution of formal knowledge to community, percentage of stakeholder group in leadership positions, and changes in conditions of ancestral and historical sites/features/monuments.
Site attributes affecting preservation and protection potential: High visibility marine environments present greater ease in detection, investigation, and monitoring but can also present greater challenges in protection and preservation. Inversely, sites in low visibility or backwater environments can be difficult to detect and monitor but are afforded perhaps greater protection as the environment indirectly conceals them. Saltwater shipwreck sites, through consumption by the shipworm (teredo navalis), can be largely degraded or semi-buried whereas freshwater sites typically have better preservation and can be more recognizable as an archaeological site.
Remote-sensing surveys are the standard means for detecting new sites, and these typically utilize a magnetometer (detects ferrous metal) and side-scan sonar, the latter of which produces a sonar image akin to a photographic record. A subbottom profiler can also be used, which records submerged geophysical attributes such as geological strata river channels and can also detect buried structures. Other enhanced imagery collection instrumentation includes sector-scan, multi-beam, and BlueView sonar acquisition systems.
Data collection and analysis of sociocultural and socioeconomic phenomena may involve both quantitative and qualitative methods, including direct or participatory observation, open-ended interviews, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups. Quantitative data is typically collected through household socioeconomic surveys. In addition, qualitative data may be gathered in recorded interviews through note-taking or using either video or voice recorders. Cognitive Anthropological studies typically focus on cultural domains. The methods used to collect systematic data for these analyses include free lists, sentence frames, triad tests, pile sorts, and paired comparisons. More advanced methods may involve componential analysis, folk taxonomies, and ethnographic decision model.