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What Is An Observational Study? A Complete Guide With Examples
Education

What Is An Observational Study? A Complete Guide With Examples

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This article will completely describe the observational study by briefly describing it, stating its types, and summarising different steps to complete it.

What Is An Observational Study?

As reflected by its name, an observational study helps solve a research problem purely in the light of observations of a researcher. Usually, this type of research does not manipulate any research subject in a controlled environment. Thereby, it helps researchers in finding results by using qualitative data in the explanatory as well as exploratory research. However quantitative observational studies also exist, but they are less common in social sciences research. All in all, observational research is one that allows researchers to collect data by observing facts without manipulating data.

Types Of Observational Study:

Basically, there are three types of observational research, namely, cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies. To know one type differs from others, you must read the following section:

Cohort Studies:

The literal meaning of the word ‘cohort’ is a ‘group of people with shared characteristics’. In this type of research, a group of participants having some shared characteristics is followed over a period of time. Observing participants over a period of time reflect that cohort studies are longitudinal studies. For example, if participants are selected based on characteristics like smoking over an extended period of time, then the observational study will be of cohort type.

Case-Control Studies:

This is a type of study that resembles experimental research in two ways. Firstly, it consists of at least two groups. One must be the ‘case’ while the must be ‘control’ group. The case is the one whose participants are victims of a particular issue. Likewise, the control is the one whose participants are not at all affected by the problem under study. The second is that in case-control studies, researchers draw inferences based on a comparison between traits. Furthermore, this type of research is beneficial if your aim is to generate a hypothesis that can be researched further.

Cross-Sectional Studies:

In contrast to longitudinal studies, cross-sectional studies analyze the population at some specific period of time. It includes narrowing previously collected data at a specific period of time to test the prevalence of a theory. For example, if your research aims to find the number of patients suffering from lung disease in the month of March, then the study will be cross-sectional.

Apart from all, to develop more understanding of these three types of observational study, you can study various samples. To get the most relevant samples of each of these types, you can seek help from an authentic dissertation writing service.

Step To Conduct A Cross-Sectional Study:

Observational studies are quite easy to conduct as for getting good results you only need a pen and copy in your hands. However, your abilities to see behind the scene will be a plus. The following are some important tips that can summarise the whole process of observational study.

Find The Research Topic And Objective:

Like other types of research, selecting research topic and defining objectives of a research are also among the preliminary steps in observational studies. Remember, it will be convenient to select a topic for an observational study that can be searched in the light of the qualitative data.    

Choose Your Observation Technique:

At this step, you must decide what will be the most suitable technique for recording observations. For observing a phenomenon, you can make certain criteria, such as using the five senses, considering sentiments, and searching for reasons that seem responsible for its occurrence. 

Make A Plan To Conduct A Study:

The research plan of an observational study includes deciding on the best method of collection, analysis, and interpretation of data to reach a point. It must be decided at the start of the research to streamline the research process.

Collect Data By Observation:

The collection of data must be done very carefully. This is because; data plays an important role in the success of a research. Eagle eye view or abilities to see out of the box are important tips to avoid bias while collecting data by observation.  

Analyze Data

After data collection, the second most important step is to analyze data by choosing inductive or deductive approaches. In the case of the inductive approach, your observations must be recorded in a more open-ended way to determine themes. Contrastingly, the deductive approach analyses themes in the data by taking into consideration the hypothesis formed at the start of the experiment. Furthermore, thematic analysis and content analysis are other useful methods extremely useful in analyzing the trends in qualitative data gathered through observations.   

Discuss Results:

The last step in the observational study is to describe what logical consequences you extract by analyzing the observed data.

Final Thoughts:

An observational study is the type of research method that allows researchers to find solutions to research problems by observing responses. Thus, medical as well as social sciences students can use this method of study to find the effects of medicines, prognosis, and treatment of diseases, as well as their associated behavioural changes. Additionally, this method is ideal for studies where the randomized controlled trial would be unethical.

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