Community research: The lost art of unobtrusive methods

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The use of unobtrusive methods, with special reference to community-oriented research, is a lost art, despite their strong recommendation by Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest (1966) as means of supplementing reactive measures. The decline of unobtrusive measures seems to be related to the increased popularity and adherence to the doctrine of informed consent, the decrease in use of deception as a method, and the effort to conceptualize research subjects as cooperative participants. While the distaste for unobtrusive methods seems to reflect increased sensitivity toward ethics in research, the collection of partially reliable and partially valid knowledge continues, with considerable reliance on reactive measures. [References: 41]

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