Observational Methods 2: Coding and Reliability

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  • Created by: Sarah
  • Created on: 06-05-16 13:37

Coding schemes: Preliminary Considerations 

Coding schemes applied to observations to produce data. 
In other words, data are what you get out of a coding scheme.

Courtship Behaviour -> Coding Scheme -> Data -> Analysis
Coding Scheme = Measuring Instrument 

Coding Schemes: Principles of Measurement

  • There's no such thing as perfect measurement 
  • Measurements are more or less accurate. 
    Accuracy is about correct or valid measurement; the degree to which measurements actually capture the phenomena of interest. 
  • Measurements are more or less precise. 
    Precision is about exactitude; the degree to which measurements are reliable or replicable.

Accuracy vs Precision 

  • Key point 1: It is not effective to use a coding scheme that is more or less accurate than the research question for which the data are collected.
  • Key point 2: It is not effective to use a coding scheme that is more or less precise than the research question for which the data are collected.

Principles of Design

  • Codes should be mutually exclusive and exhaustive. 
  • Mutually exclusive means that each behaviour can only be put into one category
  • Exhaustive means all possible behaviours have categories

Intra- and Inter-observer Reliability:
Preliminary Considerations

  • Reliability is about the precision of the coding scheme, NOT necessrily about the precision of the observer. If an observer is sloppy, it will show…

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