Observational Study vs Experiments: Difference and Comparison

The collection of data varies in different types and kinds of studies. In some studies, it is done spatially, whereas in others, it is done statically. In some studies, the researcher must conduct experiments to derive a conclusion.

Key Takeaways

  1. Observational studies are non-interventional research methods, while experiments are research methods where researchers manipulate variables to observe the effect on the outcome.
  2. Observational studies are generally used to explore a phenomenon or association, while experiments are used to test a hypothesis.
  3. Observational studies have limited control over confounding variables, while experiments can control confounding variables to a great extent.

Observational Study vs Experiments

In an observational study, study or research is done. There is no experimental or practical work. An observational study can be done on the collected data. The conclusion is based on observation in an observational study. In experiments, practical work is done. In experiments, researchers or scientists can try different studies or methods. 

Observational Study vs

The study in which observations are counted is called an observational study. The way the observations are noted makes it different from another kind of study called an experimental study.

The study in which more importance is given to conducting experiments is called an experimental study. As the name suggests, the conclusion solely depends upon the data collected primarily after the experiments.


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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonObservational StudyExperiments
EmphasisObservations are counted.Emphasis is given on experiments.

Drawing the conclusion
Emphasis is put on making an observation, and the conclusion is drawn from it.More emphasis is put on experiments, not just observations, and the conclusion is drawn.
Rely onThe researcher is expected to rely on the collected data.The researcher is expected to observe various things through different studies or websites.
Human interventionDoes not Include Human intervention.Includes Human intervention.
ExampleRelationship between lung cancer and smoking.Hawthorne studies

What is Observational Study?

In the case of an observational study, it is not at all mandatory for the researcher to do any experiments. Still, he or she needs to make a list of observations and then can arrive at a conclusion. Observational study abstains from conducting any experiments.

Although there are many examples of observational studies, we will determine a relationship between the happening of lung cancer in humans and smoking. Thus, data were collected from those who smoke regularly and those who do not smoke.

observational study

What are Experiments?

In the case of experiments, the researcher must conduct experiments and then draw observations from them. In this type of study, manipulation can be done by the researcher in almost every aspect to conclude.

Hawthorne’s studies best set an example for an experimental study. This study was conducted in the Western Electric Company and the Hawthorne plant.

experiments 3

Main Differences Between Observational Study and Experiments

  1. In Observational Studies, observations are counted. On the other hand, in experiments or experimental studies, more emphasis is given to experiments.
  2. An observational study differs from an experiment or experimental study in how the observations are taken or noted.
  3. In an observational study, the person undergoing the study emphasizes making an observation, and the conclusion is drawn from it. On the contrary, more emphasis is on experiments, not just observations in experiments or experimental studies.
  4. In an Observational study, experiments are not done, and the researcher has to rely on the collected data. On the other hand, in the case of experiments or experimental studies, the researcher has to observe various things through different websites or studies.
  5. The observational study does not include human intervention. On the other hand, in the case of experiments, human intervention is quite common.
  6. An example of an observational study includes the relationship between lung cancer and smoking. On the other hand, an example of experiments includes Hawthorne studies.
Difference Between Observational Study and
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/0470013192.bsa454
  2. https://www.metheval.uni-jena.de/projekte/symposium2006/material/cook_shadish_and_wong.pdf

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