Observation is the basic method of obtaining information about social phenomena under investigation. All of us are constantly engaged in observation. However, all such observations are not scientific observations. Observations become a method of data collection when it is planned in accordance with the purpose of research and recorded systematically keeping in mind the validity and reliability of observed data. There are numerous situations where this method of observation is considered as most appropriate. Say for example, a researcher who is interested in understanding the behaviour of children who cannot speak, necessarily, has to depend on thi’s method of observation. Many aspects of our behaviour are so much a part of life that it becomes difficult to translate it into words. Many a time, a researcher faces resistance from respondents being studied. Sometimes, people do not cooperate with the researcher and show their unwillingness to respond to the questions of the researcher. Although observations cannot always overcome such resistance, it is relatively the most appropriate method of data collection in such situations.
The method of observations serves variety of research objectives. Exploratory objectives are worth mentioning here. A researcher can explore some aspects of his main research question or can gain insight into the research problem and develop the basis for his hypothesis. It may also be used to collect supplementary information that would help interpret findings obtained by other methods.