Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-w5x57 Total loading time: 0.306 Render date: 2022-07-01T12:11:47.043Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

7 - Observation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2018

Get access

Summary

FOCUS QUESTIONS

• What are the main characteristics of unstructured observation as a qualitative research method?

• What are the various observation ‘positions’ on the participation continuum?

• What factors should be considered when selecting an appropriate observation position?

• How does one begin observation?

• How does one go about the actual observation process, and what does one observe?

Stage 3: focused activity

Once you have completed all the preliminary preparation (Stage 1) and broad exploration (Stage 2) for a qualitative study, it is time to begin the fieldwork. In our schema this is Stage 3: focused activity. In this chapter, after noting this stage and its several steps, we turn to the first data-collecting method, observation. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 then deal with the other data collection methods to be discussed, interviewing, group processes and historical study, before we move on to the final steps in this stage of the research project.

In the pyramid model (see Chapter 3, Figure 3.3, p. 38) the focused activity stage of fieldwork represents the pinnacle in which you finally collect data, amend the research plan if required, narrow your data-collecting activities, analyse data collected during fieldwork and report findings. The first three of these activities are discussed in this and the following three chapters. In the recursive model (see Chapter 3, Figure 3.2, p. 37) data collection is the third last in the series of activity ‘boxes’.

Two types of observation

This discussion builds on the introduction to observation in Chapter 3 (pages 40–41), which might be worth re-reading before continuing with the present chapter. Two broad types of observation are described in the general research methods literature: structured and unstructured observation. Structured observation samples a predetermined event or activity, using a prearranged instrument or form into whose categories the observer records whether specific activities take place, when and how often. This might be numbers of enquirers who approach an information counter. A well designed data collection form will also make provision for some unanticipated activity to be recorded. This is essentially a quantitative research method, and so not considered further in this volume.

Type
Chapter
Information
Qualitative Research for the Information Professional
A practical handbook
, pp. 103 - 124
Publisher: Facet
Print publication year: 2004

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

  • Observation
  • G. E. Gorman, Peter Clayton
  • Book: Qualitative Research for the Information Professional
  • Online publication: 08 June 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.29085/9781856047982.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Observation
  • G. E. Gorman, Peter Clayton
  • Book: Qualitative Research for the Information Professional
  • Online publication: 08 June 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.29085/9781856047982.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Observation
  • G. E. Gorman, Peter Clayton
  • Book: Qualitative Research for the Information Professional
  • Online publication: 08 June 2018
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.29085/9781856047982.008
Available formats
×