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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Observation is a primary means for collecting qualitative data. Observing for a research project requires focused attention beyond ordinary observing in daily life. Researchers must not only notice what is going on, but must also identify patterns and anomalies in observed behavior. From these, researchers attempt to make sense of what they observe in light of a study’s questions, while remaining alert to possible blind spots or interference from personal biases or prior experiences. This chapter discusses nine aspects of working with observational data: preparing for observations; determining the researcher’s role along the participant-observer continuum; entering and leaving a site and developing rapport; determining what and how to observe; collecting data, including field notes and artifacts; maintaining a data record; coding and analyzing data; identifying authorial voice for writing the research report; and ethical considerations.

Keywords: site selection, participant observation, rapport, field notes, artifacts, coding, interpretation, voice

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