Observation Technique in Research
The observation method is defined as a technique for observing and describing a subject’s behaviour. It is a method of gathering pertinent facts and information via observation, as the name would imply. So the researcher must build a relationship with the participant and do so by immersing himself in their environment, it is also known as a participatory study. Only after that may record and gather data using the observation approach.
When you wish to prevent a mistake that might be brought on by bias during the assessment and interpretation procedures, you employ the observation approach. It is a technique for gathering factual information by observing a person and documenting it for subsequent study. Since it requires a study participant’s full consent, the observation data gathering approach is linked to a few ethical concerns.
Characteristics of Observation Method or Technique
The main characteristics of observations are:
- The process of observation is systematic: it is neither random nor unstructured. The duration of the monitoring period, the space between them, the number of observations, the location or circumstance of the observation, and the different observational techniques are all meticulously arranged. If certain aspects are to be investigated, such as the research of truthful conduct, sportsmanship, strategic orientation, etc. There are frequent systematic managements for regulating the issue.
- Observation is Specific: It involves more than merely scanning the area for generic traits of societal conduct. Instead, it focuses on those particular features of the overall situation that are seen to be relevant from the viewpoint of the study’s goal. The scientific observation should seek certain specific things which fulfil the objective of the study to save time, cost, and observational labour.
- Observation is Objective: Observation should, to the greatest extent feasible, be honest and unbiased. Generally speaking, a theory should direct it. The spectator must uphold their moral objectivity. He must view a theory as something that has to be verified. To change from his original goal when it seems unavoidable, he must simultaneously keep a flexible mentality.
- Observation is Quantitative: Since many significant events cannot be measured, it has become practically necessary to do so to improve the accuracy of observations and to make it easier to analyze them. Since quantitative data is absolute and may therefore be further understood objectively while qualitative data is subjective, even quality needs to be translated into quantity.
- Stated Goals: The observation must have some clearly stated goals. Before starting the real observation procedure, it has to be precisely specified. Without the right purposes and goals, observation will be inefficient and costly.
- Observation is Verifiable: The outcome of an observation may be reviewed and confirmed. The observation must be validated using the normal accuracy, relevance, and accessibility standards. By comparing the results of other observers and conducting the study again, it could be able to confirm the outcomes of the observation.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Observation Technique:
- Easy to conduct: The observational approach to data collecting is the easiest one to use. Even while scientifically controlled observations need some technological expertise, they nevertheless require very little technical knowledge and are simpler and more accessible than other approaches. Since everyone notices many aspects of their lives daily, it is simpler. A person may become an expert at studying their environment with minimal instruction.
- Environmental setting: Unlike other approaches, the observation method of data collecting accurately reflects the phenomena that were witnessed. They accurately depict the phenomena as it happens in the real research setting. The observation approach is less constrained than an experiment.
- Exceptional precision: In both questionnaire and interview procedures, the information provided by the respondents gives us the data we need to conduct our analysis. There is no way to check the correctness of any of these indirect approaches. However, under the observation approach, numerous tests may be used to determine the validity of the data. Thus, data gathered by observation is far more trustworthy.
- A suitable technique: It can convey information about a phenomenon that cannot do so orally, such as behaviour, actions, sentiments, etc. The most effective strategy for this occurrence is observations. For studies involving young children who are unable to comprehend the specifics of study work and who find it difficult to communicate, the observation approach is crucial.
- Less respondent participation is required: since the observation approach does not rely on people’s desire to divulge data about themselves. There are several cases where the individual declines to open up to a stranger about themselves and their personal lives. Some people lack the time or the proper communication capabilities to provide researchers with knowledge about themselves. Even if observation cannot always solve these issues, it is nevertheless simpler to get the respondent’s participation when necessary.
- Not everything is revealed: The researcher is not aware of several private habits and information. Because so many participants object to investigators watching them, not all of their actions are recorded by the researcher. Additionally, it becomes challenging to learn about a person’s specific interests and viewpoints.
- Background check: The past life of the individual is still unknown since the observational approach lacks a means for doing so. If the person is not sufficiently receptive, learning about a prior life might be difficult. Researchers are forced to rely on records that are not always reliable since there is no other choice.
- Time-consuming: The process of observation takes a lengthy time. One must give their observation adequate time and not rush it if they want it to be accurate and reliable. Observation is a process that cannot be rushed. It is challenging to accomplish an inquiry by observation in a constrained amount of time. Due to the lengthy procedure, there is a danger that both the spectator and the monitor will lose interest and refuse to continue.
- Own Favoritism: The researchers’ personal biases have a variety of effects on their observations. Making accurate generalizations is also complicated by this. An observer or researcher may have their perception of what is moral and unethical about particular circumstances. Additionally, they could have distinct ideas about a certain incident, endangering the impartiality of sociological study.