Research is the act of finding knowledge by such means as investigations so that facts can be established. Research variables are those individual empirical items that can take on different values. This work discusses two methodologies of research namely; observation and sampling.
Its main focus is the advantages and the disadvantages of each method in relation to the different techniques involved in each method. The techniques represent the multicultural aspects in relation to traditional research methods.
Observation is the act of receiving and recording data into the human senses or in scientific apparatus. It can also be defined as a method of receiving knowledge. The way a researcher looks at things, or any data that is collected from the field are also known as observations. Observation needs a rigorous preparation that also includes formulation of hypotheses (Educationforum, 2010).
During a research operation, researchers has to ask themselves questions about a phenomenon, observe the phenomenon, hypothesize it, predict a logical sequence by extrapolation and inferences, test the hypothesis experimentally, and finalizing the process by making a conclusion based on the results of the test. From the above sequence, it is evident that observation plays a big role in the second and the fifth steps.
Observation, as a way of research is classified into two techniques namely non participant and participant techniques. It is worth noting that the two methods can be used simultaneously. In the non participatory technique, the researcher does the observation but does not join the group in question. On the other hand, the researcher does the observation while joining the group in the participatory technique.
One of the advantages of observation as a method of research is that it can generate data that is deviant. Despite these deviations that may render the data unreliable, a strong fact that makes the method useful is that the data is highly representative. The method can also be used to study a small population (Ngo, 2010).
It is also applicable where interviews are quite expensive or untimely like during investigations that involve the emotional issues of toddlers. Another advantage of this method that seems to be quite obvious but often forgotten is that the researcher can study a particular group of population that other methods cannot be employed to study.
A particular behavioral pattern within a specified population can also be studied on a daily basis at specific localities (Ngo, 2010). In special instances, especially when using participatory techniques, a researcher can obtain highly accurate data that is also very rich.
Observation techniques do also have their own disadvantages. The findings of observed data can lack the aspect of reliability (Educationforum, 2010). The data may reflect that of superficial observations and this method can only investigate a small number of population at a time. According to recent studies, during these investigations, a researcher may influence the population in question to behave differently.
Other disadvantages of observation as a method of research include fatigue of the researcher due to high involvement, presence of ethical problems particularly when dealing with a population that engages in illegal activities and the misrepresentation of data during non participatory observation.
A sample is a single item within a large population of reference. Samples are usually used when the individual items in the population are too numerous in number to count or the main item of reference is too huge to investigate. It is through the collected samples that a researcher can find the desired details that they can use to make inferences.
Sampling is the process whereby a sample of a particular population is studied for further details and inferences and extrapolations made to the specified population. There are many different types of sampling depending on the method of classification, for instance, there are random samples and nonrandom samples.
Sampling employs different techniques that include, simple random, stratified random, cluster, stage, purposive, quota, snowball, volunteers, accidental, and convenience. Their advantages range from one sample to another. However, compared to research methods such as observation, their advantages seem to be following a general trend.
Even the disadvantages behave in a similar manner. Thus, the main advantages are that some techniques of sampling are highly representative especially the simple random. Specific groups are usually represented and the methods used ensure that much localized populations are not missed. Sampling also ensures that there is a balance of group sizes especially if the investigations include the selection of multiple groups.
In specific sampling methods such as quota method, there is a certainty in precise selection of numbers of the items in questions, which have appropriate characteristics. Sampling also offers the opportunity to investigate a group in which no identifiable clusters exist. Last but not least, sampling is an inexpensive way that can be viewed in terms of economies of scale.
This means that a researcher can investigate sufficient numbers of a study using fewer resources. At the same time sampling in general is more reliable since the sample data collected from the selected samples makes room for a quick inference on the population parameters (Emathzone, 2008).
This method also has its own disadvantages. Most specific sampling techniques such as simple random are not possible to execute without a complete set of population members. At the same time, these methods are not quite economical to achieve and may involve a lot of time. Other sampling techniques such as stratified random, are pretty demanding in terms of effort.
They also require a more careful definition of strata. Sampling as a method of research demands a lot of care in choosing the techniques. A researcher has to be careful in the choice such that the technique used should be the most appropriate and at the same time economical in terms of resources and time.
Stage sampling is pretty complex because it combines limitations of cluster and stratified random sampling (Emathzone, 2008). In the purposive technique, samples are not easily defensible as being representative of the entire population in question. This is because there may be an element of subjectivity operating within the researcher’s mind and their specific operations.
In some instances, it may not be possible to prove whether the sample is representative of the population in question. Good examples of this are the quota and the snowball techniques (Educationforum, 2010). Another disadvantage of sampling, especially when using the volunteer, accidental and convenience technique is that the method can be highly unrepresentative
The above research methodologies can be useful in executing research projects that involve different sizes of population. Sampling can be used to investigate large populations while observation is used to investigate particular features in small populations.
The advantages of both methods seem to compliment such that one method steps in where the other method is not applicable. This phenomenon is also appropriately related to their disadvantages.
Educationforum, (2010). Research Methods: Observation. Web.
Emathzone, (2008). Sample Survey and Advantages of Sampling. Web.
Ngo, D. (2010). Observation Methods. Web.