What is observation?


According to the University of Strathclyde, observation is systematic and recordable accounts of information. In the social sciences, researchers use observation as a method to test hypotheses both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Different types of observational research include participant and non-participant observation, according to Dr. Andrew Hannan of the University of Plymouth. Participant observations involve interaction between the investigator and subjects. A researcher poses as part of the group, either knowingly or unknowingly by the subjects. Non-participant observations do not involve interaction. Validity questions arise even in non-participant observations, because people behave differently in the presence of an observer. Other non-participant observational research includes case studies, surveys and ethnography, according to Webster University. Observational research only shows correlation, it does not produce causation, explains Webster University. In research with correlation, there are no controls put into place by the research. Other factors beyond the variables under observation, independent variables, have the potential to alter the changes in the dependent variable.

Observational research with human subjects must uphold ethical considerations by the institutional review board, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Researchers need approval for observations under which participants “have a reasonable expectation of privacy” and circumstances that involve a consequence for participants, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

1 Additional Answer
Ask.com Answer for: what is observation
an act or instance of noticing or perceiving.
an act or instance of regarding attentively or watching.
the faculty or habit of observing or noticing.
notice: to escape a person's observation.
an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrence for some scientific or other special purpose: the observation of blood pressure under stress.
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Source: Dictionary.com
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