Research Methods
Observation is a research technique of direct observation of phenomena in their natural setting without any involvement in the situation.

Observation could be a qualitative as well as a quantitative data collection technique.

Observation is a qualitative research technique when:

  • There are clearly marked and specified objective parameters which are fixed/recorded during the course of observation. As a rule the parameters are recorded for the follow-on processing
  • The number of observations (at least 30) allows for a qualitative appraisal.

Observation can be carried out by:

  • Specially trained researchers
  • Technical equipment (audio- / video recording) with a follow-on analysis. In this case observation is not time-limited, it is more objective as records could be analyzed several times. It is also easier to carry discreet observation. Yet there are limitations with respect to object of observation movement.

Observation is seldom used as single data collection method and it is often combined with an interview.

Observation is best suited when researchers need not only to get the respondents’ opinions but also to watch their real behavior (both verbal and non-verbal). Observation is often used to analyze real purchase (in-store observation) or product/service actual usage.