What is data collection?

Information gathering can be from a variety of sources. Importantly to say, there are no best method of data collection. In principle, how data are being collected depends on the researcher?s nature of research or the phenomena being studied.

Data collection is a crucial aspect in any level of research work. If data are inaccurately collected, it will surely impact the findings of the study, thereby leading to false or invaluable outcome.

Data collection is a systematic method of collecting and measuring data gathered from different sources of information in order to provide answers to relevant questions. An accurate evaluation of collected data can help researchers predict future phenomenon and trends.

Data collection can be classified into two, namely: primary and secondary data. Primary data are raw data i.e. fresh and are collected for the first time. Secondary data, on the other hand, are data that were previously collected and tested.

Methods of data collection

The system of data collection is based on the type of study being conducted. Depending on the researcher?s research plan and design, there are several ways data can be collected.

The most commonly used methods are: published literature sources, surveys (email and mail), interviews (telephone, face-to-face or focus group), observations, documents and records, and experiments.

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1. Literature sources

This involves the collection of data from already published text available in the public domain. Literature sources can include: textbooks, government or private companies? reports, newspapers, magazines, online published papers and articles.

This method of data collection is referred to as secondary data collection. In comparison to primary data collection, tt is inexpensive and not time consuming.

2. Surveys

Survey is another method of gathering information for research purposes. Information are gathered through questionnaire, mostly based on individual or group experiences regarding a particular phenomenon.

There are several ways by which this information can be collected. Most notable ways are: web-based questionnaire and paper-based questionnaire (printed form). The results of this method of data collection are generally easy to analyse.

3. Interviews

Interview is a qualitative method of data collection whose results are based on intensive engagement with respondents about a particular study. Usually, interviews are used in order to collect in-depth responses from the professionals being interviewed.

Interview can be structured (formal), semi-structured or unstructured (informal). In essence, an interview method of data collection can be conducted through face-to-face meeting with the interviewee(s) or through telephone.

4. Observations

Observation method of information gathering is used by monitoring participants in a specific situation or environment at a given time and day. Basically, researchers observe the behaviour of the surrounding environments or people that are being studied. This type of study can be contriolled, natural or participant.

Controlled observation is when the researcher uses a standardised precedure of observing participants or the environment. Natural observation is when participants are being observed in their natural conditions. Participant observation is where the researcher becomes part of the group being studied.

5. Documents and records

This is the process of examining existing documents and records of an organisation for tracking changes over a period of time. Records can be tracked by examining call logs, email logs, databases, minutes of meetings, staff reports, information logs, etc.

For instance, an organisation may want to understand why there are lots of negative reviews and complains from customer about its products or services. In this case, the organisation will look into records of their products or services and recorded interaction of employees with customers.

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6. Experiments

Experiemental research is a research method where the causal relationship between two variables are being examined. One of the variables can be manipulated, and the other is measured. These two variables are classified as dependent and independent variables.

In experimental research, data are mostly collected based on the cause and effect of the two variables being studied. This type of research are common among medical researchers, and it uses quantitative research approach.

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