When ever there is a need of evaluating the social phenomenon, the most favorable technique is the observational research. The phenomenon of the observational research is applicable in the natural setting and is directly applied to the study area. In this type of research the manipulation of the variables is not required and no control environment is needed to be established.

Types of Observation

There is an interesting fact that the reliability of observational research can be challenged but its validity is commendable in contrast with experimental or qualitative research. The flexibility of application is its main incentive and attribute as the approaches are not to be followed rigidly and can be changed according to the requirements. The behavioral variables can be more likely judged by the observational techniques, while cognitive studies cannot employ this research technique.

The most obvious types of observational research are covert observational research, overt observational research and researcher participation.

Covert Observational Research

The covert observational research, often studies as participant observation is an observation research technique, where the observation is made without prior information to the social group under study. The observation is made by the researcher either being an informal part of that group or observing through a distance. The social rules in this research are strictly obeyed ensuring that the researcher presence doesn’t harms the social settings prevailing in the particular group but still it is considered unethical by most of the researchers, but the social group doesn’t behaves casually if they are made noticed of the prevailing research. The well renowned research in this context includes Laud Humphries homosexual encounters through covert observation (Tearoom Trade, 1970).

The methodologies of covert observational research include collective discussions, informal interviews, involvement in group’s life, life histories, personal document analysis, and self analysis. The involvement of both qualitative and quantitative methods is made in observational research but the most preferable method is still qualitative.

Overt Observational Research

In contrast to covert observational research the overt observational research is open one, where the prior information is given to the social group about the research purpose, the time to be employed during the research and the research scope. The consent of the people being observed makes the research undeceived and ethical as the cooperation proceeds with the permission of the social group and they are explained about all the situations and procedures to be followed for making the research productive and successful.

Researcher Participation or Direct Observational Research

The researchers often participate in the research phenomenon, losing his impartiality to attain the fine results of the considered phenomenon. The researcher is in fact more focused to the phenomenon to be studies, which may not be achieved through other techniques. The researcher participation ensures the proper path of the research, which may otherwise be lost in other qualitative methods, and the way of conduct could be changed if the worked out phenomenon fails to give the desired results.

Researcher participation is in fact the direct observational research in which there is a close association between the researcher and the person or the group being observed. In this type of participation the subjects are aware of the ongoing research. The control environment is created by the researcher and may face the rebellious attitude of the subjects as they are aware that they are being watched.



• DeWalt, K. M., DeWalt, B. R., & Wayland, C. B. (1998). "Participant observation." In H. R. Bernard (Ed.), Handbook of methods in cultural anthropology. Pp: 259-299. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

• Holigrocki, R. J., Crain, R., Bohr, Y, & Young, K., Bensman, H. (2009). Interventional use of the Parent-Child Interaction Assessment-II enactments: Modifying an abused mother’s attributions to her son. Journal of Personality Assessment, 91(5), 397-408.

• Akbar S. Ahmed (1984), "Al-Beruni: The First Anthropologist", RAIN 60: 9-10

• Bolton, Ralph. (1995). "Tricks, friends and lovers: Erotic encounters in the field." In D. Kulick & M. Wilson (Eds.), Taboo Pp: 140 – 167. London: Routledge.

• Mead, Margaret (1928) Coming of age in Samoa: a psychological study of primitive youth for Western civilisation. New York: William Morrow & Co.