As an ethnographic research method, observation has a long history.
The value of observation is that it permits researchers to study
people in their native environment in order to understand “things”
from their perspective. Observation requires the researcher to spend
considerable time in the field with the possibility of adopting various
roles in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of
the people being studied. A variety of techniques are used to collect
data. Gaining access to the group and leaving the field are two
important factors that need consideration. Other areas of concern
involve ethical problems, as well as validity and reliability issues.
Until recently, few library and information science (LIS) studies
have included this method; however, observation is gaining favor as
LIS researchers seek to understand better the role of information
in people’s everyday lives.
Graduate School of Library and Information Science. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
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Copyright 2006 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.