The 5 Ways of Collecting Data in Research

Exactly name of the 5 ways of collecting data in research are importantly set to be outlined in the following content. Data collection is applicable in different fields. It is a power you can leverage into a successful strategy for your studies, business, or organization. Combined, they can give an informed picture of your subjects and help you make better decisions.

Data collection is defined as the process of gathering and measuring information on variables of interest, in an established systematic fashion that enables one to answer queries, stated research questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate outcomes.

There are numerous reasons for data collection, but here we are going to focus primarily on those relevant to marketers and small business owners:

  • It helps you learn more about your target audience by collecting demographic information
  • It enables you to discover trends in the way people change their opinions and behavior over time or in different circumstances
  • It lets you segment your audience into different customer groups and direct different marketing strategies at each of the groups based on their individual needs
  • It facilitates decision making and improves the quality of decisions made
  • It helps resolve issues and improve the quality of your product or service based on the feedback obtained

Research, generally, is a creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge. It also involves the collection, organization and analysis of evidence to increase understanding of a topic, characterized by a particular attentiveness to controlling sources of bias and error. Below are the ways of collecting data in research which you may or may not be aware of as an academic or as a student or even merely as a researcher:

  • Questionnaire

Questionnaire provides the most speedy and simple technique of gathering data about groups of individuals scattered in a wide and extended field. In this method, a questionnaire form is sent usually by post to the persons concerned, with a request to answer the questions and return the questionnaire.

It is a device for securing answers to questions by using a form which the respondent fills in himself. Fundamentally the questionnaire is a set of stimuli to which illiterate people are exposed in order to observe their verbal behavior under these stimuli.

Since the questionnaire is sent to a selected number of individuals, its scope is rather limited but within its limited scope it can prove to be the most effective means of eliciting information, provided that it is well formulated and the respondent fills it properly. A properly constructed and administered questionnaire may serve as a most appropriate and useful data gathering device.

  • Direct Observation

Direct observation is one of the most passive qualitative data collection methods. Here, the data collector takes a participatory stance, observing the setting in which the subjects of their observation are while taking down notes, video/audio recordings, photos, and so on.

Due to its participatory nature, direct observation can lead to bias in research, as the participation may influence the attitudes and opinions of the researcher, making it challenging for them to remain objective. Plus, the fact that the researcher is a participant too can affect the naturalness of the actions and behaviors of subjects who know they’re being observed.

  • Focus Groups

The focus group data collection method is essentially an interview method, but instead of being done 1-on-1, here we have a group discussion.

Whenever the resources for 1-on-1 interviews are limited (whether in terms of people, money, or time) or you need to recreate a particular social situation in order to gather data on people’s attitudes and behaviors, focus groups can come in very handy.

Ideally, a focus group should have 3-10 people, plus a moderator. Of course, depending on the research goal and what the data obtained is to be used for, there should be some common denominators for all the members of the focus group.

  • Interview

Interview as a technique of data collection is very popular and extensively used in every field of social research. The interview is, in a sense, an oral questionnaire. Instead of writing the response, the interviewee or subject gives the needed information verbally in a face-to-face relationship. The dynamics of interviewing, however, involves much more than an oral questionnaire.

Read Also: Quantitative Research Topics in School

Interview is relatively more flexible tool than any written inquiry form and permits explanation, adjustment and variation according to the situation. The observational methods, as we know, are restricted mostly to non-verbal acts. So these are understandably not so effective in giving information about person’s past and private behavior, future actions, attitudes, perceptions, faiths, beliefs thought processes, motivations etc.

  • Records and Documents

This method involves analyzing existing records or documents over a specific period. Unlike any other methods mentioned above, the information is already available. Therefore, you don’t require active research. Apart from this, it is easy to track collected information since you can recheck the history of specific events.

Aside from using secondary research alone, secondary research documents can also be used in anticipation of primary research, to understand which knowledge gaps need to be filled and to nail down the issues that might be important to explore further in a primary research study.

Tools for Data Collection

  • Word Association

The researcher gives the respondent a set of words and asks them what comes to mind when they hear each word.

  • Sentence Completion

Researchers use sentence completion to understand what kind of ideas the respondent has. This tool involves giving an incomplete sentence and seeing how the interviewee finishes it.

  • Role-Playing

Respondents are presented with an imaginary situation and asked how they would act or react if it was real.

  • In-Person Surveys

The researcher asks questions in person.

  • Online/Web Surveys

These surveys are easy to accomplish, but some users may be unwilling to answer truthfully, if at all.

  • Mobile Surveys

These surveys take advantage of the increasing proliferation of mobile technology. Mobile collection surveys rely on mobile devices like tablets or smartphones to conduct surveys via SMS or mobile apps.

  • Phone Surveys

No researcher can call thousands of people at once, so they need a third party to handle the chore. However, many people have call screening and won’t answer.

  • Observation

Sometimes, the simplest method is the best. Researchers who make direct observations collect data quickly and easily.

Leave a Reply