Factors affecting the reliability and validity of behavioural datasets: Assessing the impact of observers' experience and native language on studies of wild animals

Kavanagh, Ailbhe S., Goldizen, Anne W., Blomberg Simon P., Noad, Michael J. and Dunlop, Rebecca A. (2016) Factors affecting the reliability and validity of behavioural datasets: Assessing the impact of observers' experience and native language on studies of wild animals. Aquatic Mammals, 42 1: 1-11. doi:10.1578/AM.42.1.2016.1


Author Kavanagh, Ailbhe S.
Goldizen, Anne W.
Blomberg Simon P.
Noad, Michael J.
Dunlop, Rebecca A.
Title Factors affecting the reliability and validity of behavioural datasets: Assessing the impact of observers' experience and native language on studies of wild animals
Journal name Aquatic Mammals   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0167-5427
1996-7292
Publication date 2016-02-19
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1578/AM.42.1.2016.1
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 42
Issue 1
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Place of publication Norwich, United Kingdom
Publisher European Association for Aquatic Mammals
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In animal behaviour studies, particularly those involving wild animals, the reliability and validity of behavioural data collected by observers are not often examined. It is rarer still to see an assessment of the factors that may influence data collection. Variation in the reliability (the consistency of measurements) and the validity (the accuracy of measurements) by different observers may occur. This variability in data collection may have a significant impact on the accuracy of the results of a study. While the impact of observers' experience on reliability has been demonstrated in some studies, the influence of factors such as observers' native language is unknown. Herein, we used pre-recorded digital footage of migrating humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to examine the effects of observers' experience and native language on the reliability and validity of their data collection. We found that neither factor (experience nor native language) had a significant effect overall. However, within the dataset, specific behavioural types were found to be more accurately and consistently recorded than others. The results of this study help identify behavioural types that may require redefinition in the ethogram as well as those that were not reliably recorded and that should be excluded from further analysis. This information enables future research to optimise the reliability and validity of behavioural data collected at the site and to help identify robust variables for inclusion in data analysis.
Keyword Experience
Humpback whale
Interobserver agreement
Interobserver reliability
Kappa statistics
Megaptera novaeangliae
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Biological Sciences Publications
School of Veterinary Science Publications
 
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