What is the meaning of Observation in Research?

Observation means viewing or seeing. We go on observing something or other while we are awake. Most of such observations are just casual and have no specific purpose. But in research, observation as a method of data collection is different from such casual viewing. Observation method is useful to researchers in a variety of ways. They provide researchers with ways to check for non-verbal expression of feelings, determine who interacts with whom, grasp how participants communicate with each other and check how much time is spent on various activities.

According to Langley, observation involves looking and listening very carefully. We all watch other people sometimes, but we don’t usually watch them in order to discover particular information about their behaviour. This is what observation in social science involves. According to Gorman and Clayton, observation studies as those that “involve the systematic recording of observable phenomena or behavior in a natural setting.” Following are the situations in which observations are useful:

  • When one needs to understand about the ongoing process.
  • When one is gathering data on the basis of behaviour of others.
  • Observation helps in observing others behaviors.
  • When one needs to evaluate the ongoing physical setting, situation and scenario.
  • When data collection from individuals is not a perfect one.
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