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Observation Method

1) Define observation method. Enumerate its purpose.
Observation is defined as planned, systematic viewing of a phenomena or event to record its occurrence in a scientific and unbiased manner. Its purpose is to collect valid data for inference to analyze and draw inference regarding a situation to finally propose a theory.

2) Discuss the points you would keep in mind while planning an observation.

  • While planning an observation, one should keep in mind the following:
  • What should be observed;
  • How the observation should be recorded;
  • What type of tools and techniques need to be used;
  • How to ensure accuracy of observation; and
  • What type of relationship should be there between the observers and observed- how the desired relationship should be established.

3) Define participant observation. Enumerate the areas in LIS research suitable for
participant observation
The role of the observer / investigator is necessary to be defined. In participant observation, the investigator becomes a part of the group or phenomenon. Then the investigator become participant or member of the group and also investigates / observes the situation. He participates in all the activities and functions of the group and simultaneously observes the behaviour of the group. The investigator
has to play twin roles such as observer and participant. Areas in LIS research suitable for participant observation are:

  • Use of OPAC by users
  • Information needs and requirements of users
  • Attitude of users towards use of IT in libraries
  • Reasons for pilferage and theft in libraries

4) Differentiate between structured and unstructured observation.
Observation can be structured or unstructured. Structured observation is planned and carried out accordingly. The conditions are known in advance and under control. Unstructured observation is not so, as the conditions are not under control. It is participant observation where the observer is part of the group to be observed.

5) Give some examples of use of observation method for research in libraries.

  • Observation method can be used for research in libraries in the following cases: 
  • Use of catalogue by users in a library;
  • Information seeking behaviour of users;
  • Reading habits of school children;
  • Attitude of users towards the use of IT in libraries; and
  • Courtesy among the library staff towards users.

Observation : Planned, methodical watching with a view to record accurate and objective data regarding objects, events or phenomena
Participant Observation : Observation where the observer is part of the observantsHe participates in all the activities of the group while observing them.
Structured Observation : It is organised and planned which employs formal procedure. The units to be observed have to be carefully defined. The observer is supposed to know the situation and therefore need to prepare specific plan for collection and recording the data. It is subjected to high levels of control and differentiation.
Covert Observation : In this type of observation the participants do not know that they are being observed
Overt Observation : In this type of observation the participants are aware that they are being observed

Source:IGNOU Study Material