Observational Study – What Is It?

Research is a fundamental part of our daily lives. From being a tool that helps build knowledge and facilitate learning to being a means for finding and seizing opportunities, research is important for everyone - and even more so in modern business. Research, if done correctly, can help businesses grow and reach the peak of its potential – from forecasting early to identifying business opportunities. Researchers, especially those involved in the business world, employ or perform research through different means – one of which is called an observational study.

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The observational study is a method used in psychology, social sciences, and other fields of research wherein researchers mainly perform observation to study the behaviour of the population. Unlike experimental or randomised controlled trials, observational studies let researchers observe individuals without intervention or manipulation to affect the outcome. Neither could you control the behaviour nor directly question the participants, you can only observe the response.

Observational Study And Its Three Primary Types

As observational or observation study allows observing participants’ behaviours under naturally occurring situations, most researchers view it as a fitting replacement to randomised controlled or experimental studies. This occurs especially when it has become unethical or impossible to randomly assign participants to experimental groups. Hence, observational studies are performed.

Now, one key that you’ll encounter with this type of study is observational research. It’s a type of descriptive research that’s different from other data-gathering forms in the sense that the goal is not to intervene or manipulate any variables under observation. Study participants may or may not be aware of the presence of researchers, and observational studies produce qualitative data instead of quantitative. In business, this type of statistical study is considered a market research technique as researchers observe and gather detailed information on how consumers behave as they interact in the market.

In an observational study design, there are three primary types that you should be aware of – cohort, case-control, and cross-sectional studies.

Cohort Studies
In an observational cohort study, especially a well-design one can deliver great results. As a non-experimental study design, one or more participants (called cohorts) are selected based on their exposure status (exposed or not exposed) and do not have knowledge of the outcome to start with. Cohorts will be followed over time until the outcome of interest occurs. It’s possible that in a single study, there can be multiple outcomes to evaluate. For example, birth control research requires cohorts to be people born on specific days or months and will be compared to people who don’t fall into the same timeframe.
Case-Control Studies
Useful in generating a hypothesis, a case-control study is simple to organise as it requires two groups of participants that can help detect what will predict the outcome. Based on their outcome status, the study participants will be grouped into two. One group consists of participants who have the outcome of interest or cases, while the other group doesn’t have it and then exposure of both groups will be evaluated to come up with data. For example, researchers form a group of rural people with heart disease and another group of the same group but without the disease, then he compares and makes a hypothesis for this case control observational study.
Cross-Sectional Studies
Used across various industries, a cross-sectional observational study is especially useful in business as it helps prove or disprove hypotheses about the target market. Cross-sectional or prevalence studies are quick and cheap to conduct and are mostly used by researchers to assess multiple outcomes. Without interfering or manipulating with the sample’s environment, data will be gathered from the study’s participants by observing over the same period of time but at specific time points. Therefore, removing assumptions or earlier hypotheses about the target market as the findings present actual data.

What Are The Advantages Of Observational Studies?

As observational study involves data-gathering, researchers find it useful because they are presented with actual data to study about their target market, the way they behave and interact under normal conditions, and so on.


There are plenty of advantages that this type of study can provide.

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Data Collection Made Simple and Easy

Collecting data is simpler and easier. Through observation, researchers can easily understand things and its outcome.
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It’s Cheaper and Easier to Carry Out

Compared to other types of statistical studies, researchers prefer observation study for the reasons that it’s less expensive and easier to conduct.
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Access to First-Hand and Accurate Information

Not only does observational study allow data collection that can’t possibly be carried out with other research methods, but it gives researchers access to first-hand information that is real and accurate.
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It Reveals Analytic Insights

In a natural setting with no intervention taking place, researchers are able to observe participants and draw out penetrating insights.

Media Manager Is Home To The Observational Study Specialists

Today, the significance of research studies in business and across industries cannot be denied. And with observational studies being a key part of research, it should not be overlooked by many companies when it can help provide them with actual data and understanding of how things work.

If you are looking for professionals who can help you with your observational study needs, then there’s no need to look further. Media Manager is a leading digital marketing Singapore agency with expertise in market research, FGD, and observational studies among some. To receive a quote from our team, please do not hesitate to contact us via our site form here.

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