unit of observation

(noun) What is described by research data.

Example: The entire country is the unit of observation for the United States census that happens every ten years (decennially).

Audio Pronunciation: (u·nit of ob·ser·va·tion)

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Usage Notes:

  • Plural: units of observation
  • Not to be confused with a unit of analysis which is who or what is studied during research. Using the example above, in the United States census the country is the unit of observation but each individual is the unit of analysis.

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How to Cite the Definition of Unit of Observation

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unit of observation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 16, 2018 (https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-observation/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

unit of observation. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-observation/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unit of observation.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed December 16, 2018. https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-observation/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“unit of observation.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 16 Dec. 2018. <https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-observation/>.