Research & Planning

The Fossil Hill Group conducts all types of client directed research. This includes historical, geographical and ethnographic forms of research. Such studies are often warranted to faciliate or augment Land Claims Research, Environmental Assessment, Litigation or Municipal Planning. When your property is designated or listed under the Ontario Heritage Act (R.S.O. 1990), you will need a Heritage Impact Assessment if you want to make any changes to the property. The purpose of the Act is to preserve the character and value of our built heritage so we can integrate our history into the fabric of our evolving cities. When conducting heritage impact assessments, we analyze the building in historical context using international, provincial and local criteria. Our researchers then make clear and simple recommendations to our clients: developers, property owners as well as city planners to develop workable solutions.

Qualitative Methods

Qualitative research seeks out the why, not the how of its topic through the analysis of unstructured information. This research is used to gain insight into people's attitudes, behaviours, value systems, concerns, motivations, aspirations, culture or lifestyles. It�s used to inform business or policy decisions, communication and research. Archive research and content analysis, ethnography, evaluation and semiotics are among the many formal approaches that are used, but qualitative research also involves the analysis of any unstructured material, including customer feedback forms, reports or media clips.

Historical & Archival Research

Archival research involves the unbiased collection of primary historical evidence. Our researchers have experience in identifying, organizing and analyzing records archived in Federal, Provincial, and Municipal archives and special collections. This may include census records, land registry records, First Nation geneaology and lineage records, and military records. These records can then be used to produce chronologies, reports, document collections and databases

Ethnographic Research

Ethnography as method seeks to answer central anthropological questions concerning the ways of life of living human beings. Ethnographic questions generally concern the link between culture and behavior and/or how cultural processes develop over time. The data base for ethnographies is usually extensive description of the details of social life or cultural phenomena in a small number of cases. In order to answer their research questions and gather research material, our ethnographers often live among the people they are studying, or at least spend a considerable amount of time with them. While there, fieldworkers engage in "participant observation", which means that they participate as much as possible in local daily life (everything from important ceremonies and rituals to ordinary things like meal preparation and consumption) while also carefully observing everything they can about it. Through this, researchers seek to gain what is called an "emic" perspective, or the "native's point(s) of view" without imposing their own conceptual frameworks. The emic world view, which may be quite different from the "etic", or outsider's perspective on local life, is a unique and critical part of anthropology. Through the participant observation method, ethnographers record detailed fieldnotes, conduct interviews based on open-ended questions, and gather whatever site documents might be available in the setting as data.

Quantitative Methods

The Fossil Hill Group conducts all forms of social science based quanititative studies. Quantitative research involves gathering data that is absolute, such as numerical data, so that it can be examined in as unbiased a manner as possible. There are many principles that go along with quantitative research, which help promote its supposed neutrality. Quantitative research generally comes later in a research project, once the scope of the project is well understood. The main idea behind quantitative research is to be able to separate things easily so that they can be counted and modeled statistically, to remove factors that may distract from the intent of the research. A researcher generally has a very clear idea what is being measured before they start measuring it, and their study is set up with controls and a very clear blueprint. Tools used are intended to minimize any bias, so ideally are machines that collect information, and less ideally would be carefully randomized surveys. The result of quantitative research is a collection of numbers, which can be subjected to statistical analysis to come to results. Remaining separate from the research emotionally is a key aspect of quantitative research, as is removing researcher bias. For things like sociology or other "hard sciences", this means that quantitative research has a very minimal amount of bias at all. For things like sociological data, structured questionnaires are usually used incorporating mainly closed questions - questions with set responses which means that the majority of bias is hopefully limited to that introduced by the people being studied, which can be somewhat accounted for in models. Quantitative is ideal for testing hypotheses, and for hard sciences trying to answer specific questions.