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Observation

Naturalistic Observation

❶However, it is very costly to classify research papers manually. Observational research often has no clearly defined research problem , and questions may arise during the course of the study.

Controlled Observation

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The biggest advantage of the naturalistic method of research is that researchers view participants in their natural environments. This leads to greater ecological validity than laboratory observation, proponents say. Proponents of laboratory observation often suggest that due to more control in the laboratory, the results found when using laboratory observation are more meaningful than those obtained with naturalistic observation.

Laboratory observations are usually less time-consuming and cheaper than naturalistic observations. Of course, both naturalistic and laboratory observation are important in regard to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Case study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of indviduals. Case studies often lead to testable hypotheses and allow us to study rare phenomena. Case studies should not be used to determine cause and effect, and they have limited use for making accurate predictions.

There are two serious problems with case studies — expectancy effects and atypical individuals. Describing atypical individuals may lead to poor generalizations and detract from external validity.

In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through interviews or questionnaires. After participants answer the questions, researchers describe the responses given. In order for the survey to be both reliable and valid it is important that the questions are constructed properly. Questions should be written so they are clear and easy to comprehend.

Another consideration when designing questions is whether to include open-ended, closed-ended, partially open-ended, or rating-scale questions for a detailed discussion refer to Jackson, Advantages and disadvantages can be found with each type:. Open-ended questions allow for a greater variety of responses from participants but are difficult to analyze statistically because the data must be coded or reduced in some manner.

Closed-ended questions are easy to analyze statistically, but they seriously limit the responses that participants can give. In addition to the methods listed above some individuals also include qualitative as a distinct method and archival methods when discussing descriptive research methods. It is important to emphasize that descriptive research methods can only describe a set of observations or the data collected.

It cannot draw conclusions from that data about which way the relationship goes — Does A cause B, or does B cause A? Nothing could be further from the truth. Research Methods and Statistics: A lot of research has been carried out in sleep laboratories as well. Here electrodes are attached to the scalp of participants and what is observed are the changes in electrical activity in the brain during sleep the machine is called an electroencephalogram — an EEG.

Controlled observations are usually overt as the researcher explains the research aim to the group, so the participants know they are being observed.

Controlled observations are also usually non-participant as the researcher avoids any direct contact with the group, keeping a distance e. Controlled observations can be easily replicated by other researchers by using the same observation schedule. This means it is easy to test for reliability. The data obtained from structured observations is easier and quicker to analyze as it is quantitative i. Controlled observations are fairly quick to conduct which means that many observations can take place within a short amount of time.

This means a large sample can be obtained resulting in the findings being representative and having the ability to be generalized to a large population.. When participants know they are being watched they may act differently. The researcher simply records what they see in whatever way they can. With regard to human subjects Margaret Mead used this method to research the way of life of different tribes living on islands in the South Pacific.

Kathy Sylva used it to study children at play by observing their behavior in a playgroup in Oxfordshire. Like case studies naturalistic observation is often used to generate new ideas.

Because it gives the researcher the opportunity to study the total situation it often suggests avenues of enquiry not thought of before.

These observations are often conducted on a micro small scale and may lack a representative sample biased in relation to age, gender, social class or ethnicity. This may result in the findings lacking the ability to be generalized to wider society. Natural observations are less reliable as other variables cannot be controlled. This makes it difficult for another researcher to repeat the study in exactly the same way. A further disadvantage is that the researcher needs to be trained to be able to recognise aspects of a situation that are psychologically significant and worth further attention.

With observations we do not have manipulations of variables or control over extraneous variables which means cause and effect relationships cannot be established. Participant observation is a variant of the above natural observations but here the researcher joins in and becomes part of the group they are studying to get a deeper insight into their lives.

If it were research on animals we would now not only be studying them in their natural habitat but be living alongside them as well! This approach was used by Leon Festinger in a famous study into a religious cult who believed that the end of the world was about to occur. He joined the cult and studied how they reacted when the prophecy did not come true. The researcher takes a false identity and role, usually posing as a genuine member of the group. On the other hand, overt is where the researcher reveals his or her true identity and purpose to the group and asks permission to observe.

This means they have to wait until they are alone and reply on their memory. This is a problem as they may forget details and are unlikely to remember direct quotations.

If the researcher becomes too involved they may lose objectivity and become bias. This is a problem as they could selectively report information instead of noting everything they observe.

Thus reducing the validity of their data.

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Observation, as the name implies, is a way of collecting data through observing. Observation data collection method is classified as a participatory study, because the researcher has to immerse herself in the setting where her respondents are, while taking notes and/or recording.

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Observational Research. What is Observational Research? Observational research (or field research) is a type of correlational (i.e., non-experimental) research in which a researcher observes ongoing behavior. There are a variety of types of observational research, each of which has both strengths and weaknesses.

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Controlled observations are usually overt as the researcher explains the research aim to the group, so the participants know they are being observed. Controlled observations are also usually non-participant as the researcher avoids any direct contact with the group, keeping a distance (e.g. observing behind a two-way mirror).Author: Saul Mcleod. For a more developed discussion of the distinction between observation and participant observation see Savage () and for a discussion of participant observation as a methodology see Jorgensen ().

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Observation is a complex research method because it often requires the researcher to play a number of roles and to use a number of techniques, including her/his fi ve senses, to . Descriptive research methods are pretty much as they sound -- they describe situations. They do not make accurate predictions, and they do not determine cause and effect. There are three main types of descriptive methods: observational methods, case-study methods and survey methods.