Introduction Participant observation, for many years, has been a hallmark of both anthropological and sociological studies. In recent years, the field of education has seen an increase in the number of qualitative studies that include participant observation as a way to collect information. Qualitative methods of data collection, such as interviewing, observation, and document analysis, have been included under the umbrella term of "ethnographic methods" in recent years. The purpose of this paper is to discuss observation, particularly participant observation, as a tool for collecting data in qualitative research studies.
Received Oct 8; Accepted Apr 6. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract This article outlines the contribution that ethnography could make to process evaluations for trials of complex health-behaviour interventions.
Process evaluations are increasingly used to examine how health-behaviour interventions operate to produce outcomes and often employ qualitative methods to do this.
Ethnography shares commonalities with the qualitative methods currently used in health-behaviour evaluations but has a distinctive approach over and above these methods. It is an overlooked methodology in trials of complex health-behaviour interventions that has much to contribute to the understanding of how interventions work.
These benefits are discussed here with respect to three strengths of ethnographic methodology: The limitations of ethnography within the context of process evaluations are also discussed.
Complex interventions, Qualitative research, Ethnography, Randomised controlled trials Background Qualitative methods are increasingly used in randomised controlled trials RCTs of complex health-behaviour interventions at the various stages of complex intervention development and evaluation, including process evaluation [ 12 ].
Qualitative methods can inform the understanding of a problem, the development of an intervention, and the understanding of how an intervention is delivered by agencies and received by participants.
In process evaluations, qualitative data can contribute insights into how interventions operate and how outcomes are reached, although in practice, qualitative research is not always used to inform the trials they are part of [ 1 ]. Interviews and focus groups are commonly used qualitative methods in process evaluations; for example, they are often used to explore the acceptability of an intervention to participants [ 3 ].
Ethnography is a methodology which largely, though not exclusively, employs qualitative methods; however, it has a distinctive approach over and above the particular methods it employs, which could be useful in process evaluations to explore the detail of how complex interventions operate.
Despite its benefits, the potential contribution of ethnography to process evaluation has not been realised. This article briefly introduces ethnography as a methodology and then discusses three useful features that are relevant to process evaluations: The comments made in this article could be applicable to other types of complex interventions besides those targeting health-behaviour change.
The focus here on health-behaviour change and public health is because there is an increasing recognition of the social determinants of health in public health research; studies are consequently addressing the social, environmental, and organisational contexts to a greater degree.
Ethnography has traditionally examined social contexts and is, therefore, a very relevant methodology for this field.
Ethnography is characterised by long-term participant observation as a central method, where the researcher spends an extended period of time in a social group in order to collect data. It employs these methods within a long-term, holistic, and flexible approach to data collection: Ethnography is a form of field research that seeks to learn the culture of a particular setting or environment.
It often relies on participant observation through prolonged field work and may include other qualitative and quantitative methods. The researcher becomes embedded in ongoing relationships with research participants for the purpose of observing and recording talk and behavior.
In such cases, the researcher as opposed to, for instance, surveys or questionnaires is the primary instrument for data collection and analysis. The researcher seeks to place specific events into a broader, more meaningful context, with a focus on the culture and social interaction of the observed people or groups.It also indicated the importance of validity in the data analysis phase, which prompted the use of both emic and etic approaches (Hoare, Buetow, Mills & Francis, ).
The emic approach is. Does the distinction between "emic" and "etic" still form part of anthropology? Or is it now disregarded? But even for insider anthropologists there are variables situated along the emic/etic divide that affect data collection such as gender, class, or education.
What is the difference between emic and etic approaches? Data Collection Methods Q ualitative researchers typically rely on four methods for gathering information: (a) participating in the setting, (b) observing directly, overall approach to inquiry and a data-gathering method.
To some degree, This method for gathering data is basic to all qualitative studies. In anthropology, folkloristics, and the social and behavioral sciences, emic and etic refer to two kinds of field research done and viewpoints obtained: emic, from within the social group (from the perspective of the subject) and etic, from outside (from the .
Whereas, the etic approach might seem to be more efficient in terms of time and financial considerations because you can assess multiple countries at once, a recent article in the International Journal of Management and Marketing Research contains some warning signs. The authors raise the important issue of data equivalence in cross-cultural .
Qualitative methods of data collection, such as interviewing, observation, and document analysis, have been included under the umbrella term of "ethnographic methods" in recent years. The purpose of this paper is to discuss observation, particularly participant observation, as a tool for collecting data in qualitative research studies.