Presentation on theme: "Collecting Primary Data: Unobtrusive Measures. Objectives After this session you will be able to: Distinguish between unobtrusive measures and other research."— Presentation transcript:
Collecting Primary Data: Unobtrusive Measures
Objectives After this session you will be able to: Distinguish between unobtrusive measures and other research approaches. Describe the advantages of unobtrusive measures over more interactive methods. Select between different unobtrusive measures for conducting research. Demonstrate how to access data archives on the Internet.
Definition Unobtrusive measures involve the use of non-reactive sources, independent of the presence of the researcher, and include documentary evidence (files, maps, films, sound recordings and photographs), physical evidence and archival analysis.
Problems of reactive measures Interviewer bias. Invalid research tools. Unreliable research tools. Reactivity between interviewer and interviewee. Respondents get tired filling in a survey.
Unobtrusive data: controlled erosion measures For example, calculating the ‘work rate’ of postal workers, by taking measures of the rate at which their shoes wear out.
Types of unobtrusive measures: documents Running records: –Organizational documents –Actuarial records –Political and judicial records Episodic records: –Sales records –Personal records –Visual and mass media records –Institutional records
Digital records: Internet archives Access to: Government archives Government agencies Statistics Research projects
Digital records: CCTV Example: it can help retailers (or the researchers they commission) to: Analyse customer flows. Evaluate the impact of store refits. Identify ways of increasing store penetration. Measure dwell-time in different departments or on specific displays. Understand the nature of interactions between staff and customers.
Ethics and the Internet Accessing (multiple) voices. Gaining consent. Respecting privacy. Ensuring anonymity. Avoiding misinterpretation. Identifying ownership. Attributing authorship.
Ethics and CCTV Researchers need to take into account the interests of: The client who commissioned the research. The general public who may not want to be filmed in certain shops (for example, chemists, opticians or lingerie stores). Innocent bystanders, since modern surveillance cameras have a 360 degree field of vision. The police or legal system if criminal activities are observed. Employees who may be concerned that recordings of their good or bad behaviour will affect their pay or promotional prospects.
Limitations of unobtrusive measures Need to be used with other data gathering methods. Data may be incomplete, out of date or unreliable. High levels of information ‘dross’. Ethical issues: how to gain informed consent, when originators of the measures unknown.
Summary Unobtrusive measures involve the use of non-reactive sources such as files, photographs, videos, sound recordings and drawings, and now the Internet. Unobtrusive measures include the analysis of physical accretion and erosion measures, and the use of documents that include a wide range of organizational, business and personal records. One of the advantages of using unobtrusive records is that they deal with ‘dead’ data, they do not pose the risk faced by many other research methods, of reactive measurement effects such as interviewer bias, or socially conditioned responses by participants. Unobtrusive measures carry with them their own inherent problems in that documents, for example, may be stored selectively, survive selectively and be inaccurate and incomplete. The growth of the Internet and monitoring technology such as CCTV means that the scope for research using unobtrusive measures is increasing at a rapid rate. However, the new technology also brings with it new ethical challenges which require recognizing the interests of disparate groups.