Checklist for Observation

A: Planning – thinking through ‘who’, ‘where’, ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘what’. Have you considered:

☑ The type of observation study you will do – do your goals and context lend themselves to an observation study that is candid or covert; participant/nonparticipant; structured/unstructured – and of what duration?

☑ Population and sample/ respondent/ participants – who you plan to speak about (population) – and gather data from (sample)

☑ Access to the group/ situation/ activities you wish to observe

☑ How you will present yourself

☑ How you plan to control your biases

☑ How you might develop the skills/resources needed to carry out your observation

☑ Strategies for ensuring credibility

☑ The tools you w ill use, i.e.) an observation schedule or if unstructured, any relevant themes to explore

☑ Details – what timeframe will you be working towards? If you will observe on one occasion, multiple occasions, or will your study involve prolonged engagement?

☑ How you will record your data

☑ Ethics/ethics approval

☑ Contingencies – i.e.) having a back-up plan ready to go your original plan does not pan out

B: Implementing. Have you:

☑ Eased into the observation situation

☑ Prepared yourself to accept a range of sensory input – use all your senses, and possibly your intuition, to gather data

☑ Invested significant time in your observations

☑ Looked for saturation – try to ensure your observations no longer yield new knowledge before ending the process

C: Recording. Have you:

☑ Recorded your observation as soon as possible. If using schedules, they should be filled in while observations occur. If you are more immersed in your research context, you may want to record your observations when removed from the situation either on data sheets or in a journal

D: Reviewing. Have you:

☑ Reviewed the process and noted any difficulties encountered

☑ Reviewed your observation records

☑ Confirmed – checked with an insider, ask another observer to compare notes, or triangulate your observational data with other data types

E: Refining. Have you:

☑ Made modifications – based on your own review of the process; any confirmation strategies you have attempted; and the quality of the data generated

☑ Kept reviewing and refining – observation takes practice; keep refining until you are comfortable with the process and the data collected

☑ Considered major issues – if there are major issues, you will need to openly discuss with your supervisor and consider modifications

F: Managing and analysing. Have you:

☑ Organized/collated your data

☑ Analysed your data. Most data collected in observation can be quantitative(through the use of checklists) or can be much more qualitative (through the use of journaling)