Participant Observation as a Data Collection Method

Barbara B. Kawulich


Observation, particularly participant observation, has been used in a variety of disciplines as a tool for collecting data about people, processes, and cultures in qualitative research. This paper provides a look at various definitions of participant observation, the history of its use, the purposes for which it is used, the stances of the observer, and when, what, and how to observe. Information on keeping field notes and writing them up is also discussed, along with some exercises for teaching observation techniques to researchers-in-training.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502430


participant observation; qualitative research methods; field notes


Copyright (c) 2005 Barbara B. Kawulich

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.