We explain what scientific observation is, its characteristics, types and steps. Also, its advantages, disadvantages and more.

What is scientific observation in research?

Scientific observation is one of the main research methods that is obtained through the information received through the senses and that allows the formulation of a hypothesis.

It is considered scientific because to obtain and collect the data it is governed by a series of ordered steps. The results are analyzed and dumped in a public knowledge research study that has the objective of validating or refuting the initial hypothesis.

Scientific observation is carried out in a planned, controlled and validated manner . It is a research method in which each step is recorded, which guarantees that the process can be repeated or replicated with another object of study for comparison.

Depending on the type of phenomenon to be observed, the use of research instruments may be required, such as content cards in which quantitative data or values are documented, bibliographic cards to record the information sources of a documentary-type investigation or a microscope to observe the composition and behavior of the cells.

Difference Between Observing and Experiencing

Observation consists of examining a phenomenon as it appears , without modifying or altering it, and is one of the steps of the scientific method  .

For its part, experimentation consists of intervening or provoking a phenomenon with the aim of studying it to obtain a certain result or variation and is another of the steps of the scientific method.

Characteristics of scientific observation

Scientific observation is characterized by:

The planning

It implies that the object or situation to be observed must be determined, how it will be observed and at what times, based on a previously formulated hypothesis or assumption.

The control

It implies the ability to manipulate the variables, that is, the quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the phenomenon studied. The independent variables (IV) are controlled by the researcher to obtain different data and the dependent variables (DV) consist of the effect or result and are affected by the IV.


It implies that the observation process must be replicable through step-by-step recording. This allows the investigation process to be repeated if necessary to corroborate the result.


It implies that the results of what is observed must be reliable and validated, so that they serve as arguments to support or refute the initial hypothesis.

Types of scientific observation

Types of scientific observation

Scientific observation can be carried out in two ways depending on the type of discipline that includes the research and can be:

Field observation

It consists of an investigation that requires locating the observer in a certain context. For example: in the social sciences, research in the territory is usually required to understand what the sanitary conditions in which families live in a certain neighborhood are like.

Laboratory observation

It consists of an investigation that requires observing a phenomenon through certain instruments and in a controlled environment. For example: in the natural sciences , the behavior of cells is usually studied, for which the use of a microscope, among other scientific instruments, is necessary.

Steps of scientific observation

Steps of scientific observation

The scientific observation method is based on the following steps:

  • First step: Observe a phenomenon. It consists of studying a phenomenon and analyzing the doubts that arise around it.
  • Second step: Formulate a hypothesis. It consists of the hypothesis or answer to the question asked that will allow us to find the cause of the phenomenon. The hypothesis is a possible answer that after investigation can be affirmed or refuted.
  • Third step: Plan the study methodology. It consists of establishing a series of ordered steps to analyze the object or situation, so that the study methodology can be repeated to corroborate the results.
  • Fourth step: Collect data. It consists of recording the data, both qualitative and quantitative, that are obtained during the research process and that provide results.
  • Fifth step: Verify or refute the hypothesis. It consists of drawing a conclusion based on the results, which will affirm or reject the initial thesis.
  • Sixth step: Disseminate the results. It consists of publishing the findings in a dissemination channel validated and recognized by the scientific community, which will support the research. All scientific research work must be validated and then made public.

Disadvantages of scientific observation

Scientific observation has some limitations, such as:

  • It cannot be applied to large populations or over long periods of time because it requires the presence of an observer at a given time.
  • It is subject to a certain subjectivity or bias on the part of the observer, since each person perceives reality differently.

Advantages of scientific observation

Scientific observation has advantages, such as:

  • The compatibility to interact with other analysis methodologies.
  • It can be applied or included in various areas of study and research.
  • It allows establishing a direct relationship between the researcher and the object of study and providing data that otherwise could not be known.
  • The results can be validated and reliable.

The above content published at Collaborative Research Group is for informational and educational purposes only and has been developed by referring reliable sources and recommendations from technology experts. We do not have any contact with official entities nor do we intend to replace the information that they emit.


MA student of the TransAtlantic Masters program at UNC-Chapel Hill. Political Science with a focus on European Studies. Expressed ideas are open to revision. He not only covers Technical articles but also has skills in the fields of SEO, graphics, web development and coding. .

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