What Is An Observational Study?

An observational study is characterized by its statistical and demographic method, making it a widely used tool in sciences such as sociology and biology, especially for epidemiological research.

Unlike other methods, the observational study is very limited, as it presents some problems to be reproduced again by other researchers.

An impactful research design allows researchers to hone in on research methods that are suitable for the subject matter and set up their studies up for success.

Types of Observational Study Practices


An observational study can be of different types such as :

Cohort study: This type of study is used, for example, to investigate the causes of disease occurrence and to find relationships between risk factors and health outcomes.

Case-control study: Researchers identify people with an existing health problem and a similar group without the problem. They then compare them with respect to exposure.

Cross-sectional study: In this type of study, researchers record information about their sample without manipulating or interfering with their environment. The most important characteristic of this method is that it allows different groups to be compared over the same period of time.

Longitudinal study: This method is similar to the observational study. However, in this method, researchers observe study subjects over a period of time that can last for years.

Advantages of conducting an observational study

Among the main advantages of conducting this type of study are the following:

  • It allows you to have a real and more appropriate approach to the phenomenon. This reduces the researcher’s bias.
  • Observational studies allow studies that cannot be carried out with other research methods.
  • By executing this method of study, the researcher avoids problems related to ethics or difficulties presented by a large project. 

Disadvantages of Observational Studies

Among the disadvantages of conducting this study are:

  • The researcher has no control over the classification of the study groups, nor can the study groups be randomly divided.
  • It is possible to create biases or to find cause and effect relationships where they do not exist.
  • It is difficult for the researcher to isolate the dependent variable, which can lead to misunderstandings.

Now know the details that distinguish qualitative observation.

Difference between Observational and Experimental Studies

On many occasions, researchers can only resort to observational studies to perform an in-depth analysis of certain study phenomena. In addition, it has better techniques to identify the variables.

Another difference is that an observational study is always open to discussion because it always has a level of bias and has characteristics that can affect the results.

If you are looking to set realistic goals for your medium or large-scale business, observation is the best practice. From sales growth to customer behaviour, all the information you collect will be relevant when setting specific objectives. At QuestionPro we can help you identify and solve problems through observational studies.