Data Collection Methods

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Data Collection Methods

Observation is a primary method of collecting data by human, mechanical, electrical or electronics means with direct or indirect contact. As per Langley P, “Observations involve looking and listening very carefully. We all watch other people sometimes but we do not usually watch them in order to discover particular information about their behavior. This is what observation in social science involves.”
Observation is the main source of information in the field research. The researcher goes into the field and observes the conditions in their natural state.
There are many types of observation, direct or indirect, participant or non-participant, obtrusive or non-obtrusive, structured or non-structured. The observation is important and actual behavior of people is observed and not what people say they did or feel. For example, people value health but they would pick up food they know to fatty. It is useful when the subject cannot provide information or can only provide inaccurate information like people addicted to drugs. But at the same time, in observation the researcher does not get any insight into what people may be thinking.
Obtrusive mean visible, thrusting out or evident. It is like class monitor, traffic warden or inspector. On the other hand, unobtrusive mean hidden, camouflaged or low-key. In such method, the researcher is not required to intrude. Also, it reduced bias. It enables to obtain data from a source other than people like instead of asking people which soft drink they like, an unobtrusive source would to collect empty cans from garbage dumps and analyse their brands. There are other such examples: to ascertain popularity of journal, one can observe its wear and tear in a library. Also, entry counters in a super market provide very strong evidence that from which side the customers come in. Likewise, number of hits on a web site can be related to its usefulness or popularity.

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