Observation Research Data

Recording Observation Data in Research

The process of recording observation in research can be done in several ways, the researcher keeps in mind the purpose of the observation to decide how to record them. To decide about the method of observation the researcher should also know whether the observation is made in natural settings or in controlled settings. In both cases, the method of recording will be different.

Methods of recording observation


In this method of recording observation, the researcher or the observer listens and watches the interaction and make some notes of the observation. After the interaction is over the observer records in-depth observation details. The observer can also draw the sequence of interaction while he is observing later he will write about those drawings and the interaction in detail. This method of recording observation has several advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of narrative method
  • In the narrative method, the observer can record the interaction in detail and makes conclusions from it.
  • The observer has an option to record little while the interaction is taking place and give more time to the actual observation.
Disadvantages of narrative method
  • The biggest disadvantage is that the observer bias can be introduced especially if the person recording observation has some biases.
  • Sometimes at the time of interaction, while recording the observer may miss part of the interaction or vice-versa.
  • There are often differences among different observers and if asked more than one people to observe and record different responses are yielded.
  • The observer needs to have a good memory to record details about the interaction later on.


Some researcher finds it easier to create scales of observation before the interaction begins. The observer will assess the interaction on that scale. The scales bring some rigidity to the method of recording observation. The observer selects the option that best describes the interaction and records it.

Advantages of scales
  • It brings uniformity in the method of recording observation.
  • It does not require special skills to record on scales and makes it easier for even a novice to record the observation.
Disadvantages of scales
  • To record observations on a scale the observer should be unbiased and should not avoid extremes or central options. The error of central tendency is introduced in the observations if the observer avoids the extremes and selecting only the central options or values.
  • Scales also make it impossible for the observer to record the observation in details. The observer only selects options from the scales.
  • The process of selecting options makes it more like closed ended questionnaire. In close ended questionnaire the respondent himself selects the option while on scales the observer selects it.
  • The observer bias can be introduced because the observer selects the options some researchers argue that using scales in recording observation kill the benefits of the whole process of observation.




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