The underlying need for data collection is to capture quality evidence that attempts to answer all the questions that have been raised. Through data collection, companies or managers can deduce quality information that is a prerequisite for making informed decisions.

To improve the quality of information, it is desirable that data be collected so that inferences can be made and informed decisions about what is considered a fact.

At the end of this article, you will understand why it is necessary to choose the best method of data collection to achieve the goal you have set yourself.

What is data collection?

Data collection is a methodical process of gathering and analyzing specific information to provide solutions to relevant questions and evaluate results. It focuses on finding out everything about a particular topic. The data are collected for a hypothesis test that seeks to explain a phenomenon.

Hypothesis checking eliminates assumptions while making a proposition from reason.

Data collectors have a series of results for which the data is collected. However, the main objective of data collection is to put the researcher in an advantageous position to make predictions about probabilities and future trends.

The primary ways in which data can be collected are primary and secondary data. While the former are collected by a researcher through first-hand sources, the latter are collected by a person other than the user.

Types

Before addressing the issue of different types of data collection. It is pertinent to note that data collection itself is divided into two broad categories: the collection of primary data and the collection of secondary data.

Primary data collection

Primary data collection is, by definition, the collection of raw data collected at source. It is a process of collecting the original data collected by a researcher for a specific research purpose. It can be analyzed in two segments: qualitative research and quantitative data collection methods.

Qualitative research method

Qualitative research methods of data collection do not involve the collection of data that involve numbers or that must be deduced by mathematical calculation, but are based on non-quantifiable elements such as the feeling or emotion of the researcher. An example of this method is an open questionnaire.

Quantitative method

Quantitative methods are presented in numbers and require a mathematical calculation for their deduction. An example would be the use of a questionnaire with closed questions to arrive at figures that must be calculated mathematically. Also the methods of correlation and regression, the mean, the mode and the median.

Secondary data collection

Secondary data collection is the collection of second-hand data by a person who is not the original user. It is the process of collecting existing data, whether books, journals and/or already published online portals. In terms of ease, it's much less expensive and easier to collect.

The choice between primary data collection and secondary data collection depends on the nature, scope and area of your research, as well as its purposes and objectives.

Importance

There are a lot of underlying reasons for data collection, especially for a researcher. Here are some reasons:

Integrity of research

A key reason for collecting data, whether by quantitative or qualitative methods, is to ensure that the integrity of the research question is maintained.

Reduce the likelihood of errors

The correct use of the appropriate data collection methods reduces the likelihood of errors consistent with the results.

Decision-making

To minimize the risk of decision-making errors, it is important that accurate data are collected so that the researcher does not make uninformed decisions.

Cost and time savings

Data collection saves the researcher time and funds that would otherwise be wasted without a deeper understanding of the topic or subject matter.

To support the need for a new idea, change and/or innovation

To demonstrate the need for a change in the standard or the introduction of new information that will be widely accepted, it is important to collect data as evidence to support these claims.

What is a data collection tool?

Data collection tools refer to the devices/instruments used to collect data, such as a paper questionnaire or a computer-aided interview system. Case studies, checklists, interviews, sometimes observation, and surveys or questionnaires are all tools used to collect data.

It is important to decide on data collection tools because research is carried out in different ways and for different purposes. The aim of data collection is to obtain quality evidence that allows for analysis leading to the formulation of convincing and credible answers to the questions posed.

7 best data collection methods and tools for academic, opinion or product research

Below are the top 7 data collection methods for academic, opinion or product research. It also discusses in detail the nature, pros and cons of each of them. At the end of this segment, you'll be better informed about which method best suits your research.

Interview

An interview is a face-to-face conversation between two people with the sole purpose of gathering information relevant to meet the purpose of the research. The interviews are of different types, namely structured, semi-structured and unstructured, and each of them has a slight variation with respect to the other.

Structured interviews

In short, it is a verbally administered questionnaire. It is of superficial level and is usually completed in a short period. For its speed and efficiency, it is highly recommended, but lacks depth.

Semi-structured interviews

In this method, there are several key questions that cover the scope of the areas to be explored. It allows a little more leeway for the researcher to explore the topic.

Unstructured interviews

It is an in-depth interview that allows the researcher to collect a wide range of information for a purpose. One of the advantages of this method is the freedom it gives the researcher to combine structure with flexibility, although it requires more time.

What are the best data collection tools for interviews?

To collect data through interviews, here are some tools you can use to collect data easily.

Audio recorder

An audio recorder is used to record sound on a disc, tape, or movie. Audio information can meet the needs of a wide range of people, as well as provide alternatives to printed data collection tools.

Digital camera

One of the advantages of a digital camera is that it can be used to transmit those images to a monitor screen when needed.

Camcorder

A camcorder is used to collect data through interviews. It is a combination of audio recorder and video camera. The data it provides is qualitative in nature and allows respondents to respond comprehensively to the questions they are asked. If you need to gather sensitive information during an interview, a camcorder might not help you, as you would have to maintain the subject's privacy.

questionnaires

It is the process of collecting data through an instrument that consists of a series of questions and notices to receive an answer from the people to whom it is administered. Questionnaires are designed to collect data from a group.

For clarity, it is important to note that a questionnaire is not a survey, but is part of it. A survey is a data collection process that includes various methods of data collection, including a questionnaire.

Three types of questions are used in a questionnaire. They are: fixed-alternative, scale and open. Each of the questions is tailored to the nature and scope of the research.

Online questionnaire

Various platforms allow you to create powerful forms to help you collect the information you need. Conduct research, optimize your brand awareness, or simply get to know an audience.

Paper questionnaire

A paper questionnaire is a data collection tool consisting of a series of questions and/or notices in order to gather information from respondents. Designed primarily for statistical analysis of responses, they can also be used as a form of data collection.

Reports

By definition, data communication is the process of collecting and presenting data for further analysis. The key aspect of data presentation is the accuracy of data, as the presentation of inaccurate data leads to uninformed decision-making.

Reporting tools allow you to extract and present data in charts, tables, and other visualizations so that users can find useful information. You can obtain data for reporting from reports of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), newspapers, website articles or hospital records.

NGO reports

The NGO reports contain a comprehensive and comprehensive report on the activities carried out by the NGO, covering areas such as business and human rights. The information contained in these reports is specific to research and constitutes an acceptable academic basis for data collection. NGOs often focus on development projects that are organized to promote specific causes.

newspapers

Newspaper data is relatively easy to collect and is sometimes the only continuously available source of event data. Although there is a bias problem in newspaper data, they are still a valid tool for collecting data for reporting.

Website articles

Collecting data from web articles is faster and less expensive data collection. The main disadvantages of using this data reporting method are the biases inherent in the data collection process and potential security/confidentiality issues.

Hospital care records

Health care involves a diverse set of public and private data collection systems, including health surveys, administrative enrollment and billing records, and medical records, used by various entities, such as hospitals, CHC, physicians, and health plans. The data provided are clear, impartial and accurate, but they must be obtained in accordance with legal means, as medical data are kept to the highest standards.

Existing Data

This is the introduction of new research questions that are in addition to those originally used when the data were collected. An example would be getting data from a file.

The concept of existing data means that data are collected from existing sources to investigate research issues other than those for which the data were originally collected. Existing data collection tools include:

Research journals

Unlike newspapers and journals, research journals are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers. A journal is an academic publication containing articles written by researchers, professors, and other experts.

Polls

A survey is a data collection tool to collect information from a sample of the population, with the intention of generalizing the results to a larger population. Surveys have a wide variety of purposes and can be conducted in many ways depending on the goals you want to achieve.

Observation

It is a method of data collection by which information about a phenomenon is collected through observation. The nature of the observation can be carried out as a complete observer, an observer as a participant, a participant as an observer, or as a complete participant. This method is a fundamental basis for formulating a hypothesis.

Observation involves the active acquisition of information from a primary source. It may also involve the perception and recording of data through the use of scientific instruments. The best tools for observation are:

Checklists

They set specific criteria, allow users to gather information and make judgments about what they should know in relation to the results. They offer systematic ways to collect data on specific behaviors, knowledge and skills.

Direct observation

It is a method of observational study to collect evaluative information. The evaluator observes the subject in his usual environment without altering that environment.

Focus Groups

Unlike quantitative research, which involves numerically based data, this method of data collection focuses more on qualitative research. It falls into the main category of data based on respondents' feelings and opinions. This research consists of asking open questions to a group of individuals, usually 6 to 10 people, to get their opinion.

A focus group is a method of data collection that is closely facilitated and structured around a set of questions. The objective of the meeting is to extract detailed answers to these questions from the participants. The best tools for addressing focus groups are:

bidirectional

One group observes how another group responds to questions posed by the moderator. After listening to what the other group has to offer, the listening group is able to facilitate further discussion and might come to different conclusions.

Duel of moderators

There are two moderators who act as devil's advocate. The main positive aspect of the focus group with a duel moderator is to facilitate new ideas by introducing new ways of thinking and varied points of view.

Combined Research

This method of data collection encompasses the use of innovative methods to increase the participation of both individuals and groups. Also within the primary category, it is a combination of interviews and focus groups in the collection of qualitative data. This method is key when addressing sensitive issues.

The combined research method involves two or more data collection methods, for example, interviews and questionnaires or a combination of semi-structured telephone interviews and focus groups. The best tools for combined research are:

Online survey

The two tools combined here are online interviews and the use of questionnaires. It is a questionnaire that the target audience can fill out via the Internet. It is timely, effective and efficient. Especially since the data collected are quantitative in nature.

Double moderator

The two tools that are combined here are focus groups and structured questionnaires. Structured questionnaires set the course for the investigation, while two moderators are in charge of the procedures. While one ensures that the discussion group session runs smoothly, the other ensures that all the issues in question are addressed. Focus groups with two moderators often result in a more productive session and, most importantly, optimal data collection.

7 tips to create the best surveys for data collection

Define your survey goal

Once your survey goal is defined, it will help you decide which questions are the most priority. A clear and achievable goal would be, for example, to reflect a clear reason why something happens. For example: "The goal of this survey is to understand why employees leave an establishment."

Use closed and clearly defined questions

Avoid open-ended questions and make sure you're not suggesting your preferred answer to the respondent. If possible, offer a range of answers with choice options and ratings.

The survey perspective should be attractive and inviting

An attractive-looking survey encourages a larger number of recipients to respond to the survey. You can use images and videos to keep participants glued to their screens.

Assures respondents of the security of their data

You want your respondents to be reassured as they reveal details of their personal information to you. It is their duty to inform respondents that the data they provide is confidential and is only collected for research purposes.

Make sure your survey can be completed in record time

Ideally, in a typical survey users can respond in 100 seconds. It is pertinent to note that they, the respondents, are doing you a favor. Don't stress them out. Be brief and get straight to the point.

Take a test survey

Preview your survey before sending it to respondents. Then, make a trial version that you'll send to a few individuals. Based on your answers, you'll be able to draw conclusions and decide if your survey is ready for the big moment.

Attach a reward at the end of the survey for users

Offer your respondents something that makes them excited at the end of the survey. It could be the stimulus they need not to leave the poll midway.

What is the best data collection method for qualitative data?

Answer: Combined research

The best method of data collection for a researcher to collect qualitative data, which is usually data based on respondents' feelings, opinions and beliefs, would be combined research.

The reason the combined research is best suited is that it encompasses the attributes of interviews and focus groups. It is also useful when collecting data of a sensitive nature. It can be described as a multipurpose quantitative data collection method.

Above all, the combined research improves the richness of the data collected compared to other methods of collecting qualitative data.

What is the best data collection method for quantitative research?

Answer: Questionnaire

The best method of data collection that a researcher can use to collect quantitative data that take into account data that can be represented in numbers and figures that can be mathematically deduced is the questionnaire.

These can be administered to a large number of respondents, while saving costs. For quantitative data that can be bulky in nature, the use of a Questionnaire makes that data easy to visualize and analyze.

Another key advantage of the Questionnaire is that it can be used to compare and contrast previous research work done to measure changes.

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7 Data collection methods and tools for research

7 Data collection methods and tools for research

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