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Marino R, Minichiello V, Browne J. Reporting on events using diaries. 2004.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/4811
Reporting on events using diaries
As discussed in chapters 14 and 16, questionnaires and in-depth interviews are the most commonly used methods for data collection in quantitative and qualitative research. Researchers use these methods because, generally speaking, retrospective self-reports of events provide accurate and valid data (O'Hare 1991; O'Callaghan & Callan 1992). However, to adapt an example from Reis and Wheeler (1991), let us suppose that we want to study the level of job satisfaction of intensive care nurses, how they spend their time during a working day, and their reaction to each of these activities. Traditionally, researchers would use self-report methods in which participants would be asked to retrospectively count and recall events and tasks, reflect on the various work situations and then report on their reactions, feelings or actions (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson 1987). However, data gathered using retrospective recall methods can suffer from a number of problems, such as underreporting of events, memory distortion, selective memory or reinterpretation of past experience, and recall biases (Csikszentmihalyi & Larson 1987; Tidwell, et al. 1996). Furthermore, such data will represent self-reported and not observed behaviour (Konings et al. 1995). There may be no way for the researcher to determine, for example, the circumstances that led to a specific event (e.g. the interaction between the persons involved), contextual to the event recorded (i.e. the perceived challenge of the task performed or the characteristics of the patients in terms of age or medical diagnosis), or the exact time when such events took place.