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Use Of The Observational Method In Qualitative Research

2641 words - 11 pages

For a century, researchers in many disciplines and fields have widely used the approach known as qualitative research in their studies. There are many definitions of qualitative research that have been provided. Following are some of the definitions of qualitative research:

“Qualitative research is a research strategy that usually emphasizes words rather than quantification in the collection and analysis of data.” (Bryman, 2008, p.366).

“Qualitative research is an umbrella term for an array of attitudes towards and strategies for conducting inquiry that are aimed at discovering how human beings understand, experience, interpret, and produce the social world.” (Sandelowski, 2004, p.893).

In the above definitions, the authors manage to succinctly capture the significant of the qualitative research. Qualitative research is used to define problem or develop an approach to the problem. Besides, it is also used to go deeper into issues of interest and explore the implications related to the problem. There a number of methods and techniques of data collection such as interviews, documents, observations and focus groups that can be adopted during a qualitative research. Researchers may adopt a variety of methods and techniques for data collection during qualitative research but appropriate methods should be identified and adopted depending to the needs of the research in order to acquire the desire result.

As mentioned earlier, interviews, documents, observations and focus groups are the most commonly used method in data collection for qualitative research. Observation is one of the basic methods used in data collection and it has long been a major tools being used extensively in study by researchers. This essay will be focus on the role of observational data as one of the data collection methods in qualitative research and the process of data collection and analysis when using observation as main data source will also be discussed in depth.

Role of observational data and key characteristics of the processes of data collection and analysis.

Observational data is one of the basic and oldest method to collect data used by the researchers in their daily activities during the research. Patton has defined observation method as a “descriptions of activities, behaviours, actions, conversations, interpersonal interactions, organisation or community processes or any other aspect of observable human experience.” (2002, p.4). By describing and recording all the data gathered from the observation, observational data can shows a comprehensive description of the incident and provides an insight to the scenario or setting.

Observational data can be gathered by selecting a site to be researched or observed in order to gain in depth understanding of the research. At the site, researcher needs to carry out the observation in a very descriptive way. A very descriptive way means, the researcher need to observer and describe in...

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