Intraobserver reliability refers to the stability of an individual’s observation of phenomenon at two or more intervals of time, according to sociology professor Russell K. Schutt's book, “Investigating the Social World: The Process and Practice of Research.” Simply stated, it’s the ability to consistently get the same results when making observations at different times. For example, a doctor with good intraobserver reliability skills would read a patient’s X-ray or medical diagnostic test the same way when viewing it several weeks later. Intraobserver reliability is also called self-reliability or intrarater reliability.

Importance of Intraobserver Reliability

The quality of data generated from a study depends on the ability of a researcher to consistently gather accurate information. Training, experience and researcher objectivity bolster intraobserver reliability and efficiency. For instance, animal behaviorist D.K. Scott claims to have trained herself to recognize 450 swans in the wild to lend credibility to her observations of the birds’ social behavior. Researchers often videotape phenomenon and review it multiple times to ensure their facts. Intraobserver reliability leads to findings that can be replicated by other researchers.

About the Author

Dr. Mary Dowd is a dean of students who holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Minnesota State University. Dr. Dowd has also led many administrative offices such as affirmative action, women’s center and student conduct. She enjoys teaching, writing and advising students on how to succeed in college. Dr. Dowd's literary accomplishments include published research, training materials and hundreds of practical online articles. Her writing reflects years of professional and personal life experience. As a parent of two adult children with master's degrees, Dr. Dowd authentically understands the many challenges, milestones and decisions that parents and their college age students face from admission to graduation.