Published August 2022. This version replaces ‘Client’s guide to desk studies’, which was published in December 2006.
This guide is for clients to understand the value to them of a well-executed Ground Condition “Desk Study”. It provides an overview of the purpose and use of a Desk Study. Additional guidance on other relevant reports can be found in the AGS ‘Client Guide: The Purpose and Use of Geo-environmental Reports’.
NB The terminology used by professionals for a Desk Study can vary depending on the primary guidance being cited. The term ‘Desk Study’ is used here and includes site reconnaissance when this is required.
 It does not attempt to provide definitive advice to ground condition specialists on how to deliver a Desk Study nor does it provide an exhaustive catalogue of the potential resources that can be consulted.
 For example, British Standards BS 10175 and BS 8576 use the term ‘preliminary investigation’ to encompass ‘desk study and site reconnaissance’ (also used in BS ISO 18400-202) while BS 5930:2015+A1:2020 uses the term ‘“Desk study and field reconnaissance”. Under development planning guidance, a Desk Study is the first stage data collection element of a Ground Conditions Assessment (GCA). When undertaken under such a planning context, a Desk Study may, on occasion, be referred to as ‘Stage 1 Preliminary Risk Assessment (PRA) and a preliminary appraisal of stability.