Observation is a method of data collection in qualitative research. Observation is key, because from it other research methods will be implemented.

The process of qualitative research is not linear as is the case with quantitative research.

For this reason, the boundaries between the different stages are blurred, developed to answer the questions of the investigation and implement its objectives.

In this publication we talk more about how observation is understood and used in quantitative research.

The generation of knowledge in this type of research focuses on the knowledge, analysis and understanding of non-quantifiable phenomena.

In Online Thesis, our specialists carry out qualitative research using methods of this type of research.

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What is the difference between qualitative research and quantitative research?

The generation of knowledge in this type of research focuses on the knowledge, analysis and understanding of non-quantifiable phenomena.

An example is to investigate the mythological beliefs of an aboriginal people or to know the perceptions of youth in relation to sexuality.

This type of research records human thoughts, beliefs, emotions, perceptions, and experiences to analyze and understand them.

This type of knowledge is not obtained through statistical calculations or analysis.

It is necessary to resort to methods that record these elements within the framework of precise objectives established by the researcher.

That is why qualitative data collection methods must be able to record these elements and allow them to delve into their causes and implications.

Qualitative research can investigate individually or collectively.

Similarly, qualitative research delves into the meanings that are generated in humans or that can be concluded from the data collected.

In these cases, the numbers are not excluded, but their use is adapted to the objectives of a qualitative research.

For this reason, in a study of this type, there is no express purpose of collecting numerical information and analyzing it in the form of statistics, but numbers are used to understand, interpret, analyze and thus generate knowledge.

Qualitative research methods

Qualitative research methods merge data collection and analysis.

That is because it’s necessary to do so in order to obtain more information and advance the investigation.

In qualitative research, samples are constituted and modified with the progress of the research.

In some qualitative research, the concept of sampling is not included.

The purpose of data collection in qualitative research lies in obtaining data to be converted into knowledge and information.

Observation in qualitative research

Observation is not a simple taking of notes on what a researcher sees.

That is why it implies a more integral process.

In this sense, a researcher fully uses his five senses when making the observation.

Therefore, observation is not a process that involves only seeing something with attention.

It also involves perceiving smells, listening to sounds.

In addition, observation penetrates into situations, pays attention to the different parts of the process.

The observation investigates and deepens carefully.

Therefore, the observation doesn’t imply for the researcher only to experience an inputof stimuli.

It also means digesting and analyzing them in real time while developing research.

The analysis will lead to observe new processes within the investigation.

Likewise, the analysis in the observation allows us to delve into what is being investigated.

What is the purpose of observation in qualitative research?

The observation has different purposes, but in general it’s limited to the following purposes:

To explore

The exploration of processes, human groups and cultures is part of the observation. In this sense, the observation will also delve into the structures them to explore in their key actors.


The observation also describes processes, social organizations and cultural expressions. That is why it can characterize them and link them to the functioning of society. Also, the description implies listing the meanings that are generated related to the object of study.


Observation can also go further to achieve a sympathetic position before the organization of a social group, as well as what they generate culturally. Observation can seek to understand links, purposes and meanings of certain elements in the study process.

Set hypotheses

Observation can serve as a bridge to further research by establishing hypotheses. The observation process can generate new questions for the researcher.

How to analyze the information collected in the observation?

The observation process implies an inherent analysis of the process.

However, when a researcher thinks it has reached a point where its observation has culminated, it can proceed to an analysis of the data collected:

In this case, the information can be classified into categories, in order to organize and structure it.

Likewise, the researcher can carry out an analysis of the different categories that lead it to establish relations between them or conclude meanings regarding the observed.

In the same way, the analysis of the categories can lead to discovering patterns, interpreting what has been observed and even pointing out key elements in which you want to delve.

That is why the analysis of the information obtained through the information can give way to new investigations, as well as channel the research process that is being developed.

In the same way, it can lead to deepening specific aspects and linking it with knowledge previously generated by other research.

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You might also be interested in: Thematic Networks

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