Observation is a particularly important research method as it gives the researcher a direct window into the issue being researched, that does not rely on the perceptions of the participants. However observation has its own challenges, as it is particularly prone to the findings being influenced by observer bias.

The following checklist will help you to identify the key features you need to consider when planning your observations:

  • Carrying out observations: you will need to consider the impact of the observer in the events taking place in the setting and whether the observer will be participant or non-participant

  • Structure of the observations: semi structured with flexibility in the focus of the observation/ structured taking the form of a checklist (for example time sampling, interval recording, rating scales, duration of behaviours) / critical incidents

  • The use of technology in recording observations

  • Coding data from observations

Sources of further information:

Types of observation


Advantages and disadvantages of observation


Non participant structured observation checklists


Taking field notes


 Observation and critical incidents


 Ethical guidelines for observational studies