Data Collection

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Methods of Data Collection
With a defined research problem and chalked out research design plan The task of data collection begins. For this the researcher should keep in mind two types of data viz., primary and secondary. The primary data are freshly collected thus happen to be original in character. The secondary data, on the other hand, are those which have already been collected by someone else and which have already been passed through the statistical process. The researcher would have to decide which sort of data he would be using (thus collecting) for his study and accordingly he will have to select one or the other method of data collection.

COLLECTION OF PRIMARY DATA
We collect primary data during the course of doing experiments in an experimental research but in case we do research of the descriptive type and perform surveys, whether sample surveys or census surveys, then we can obtain primary data either through observation or through direct communication with respondents in one form or another or through personal interviews. There are several methods of collecting primary data, particularly in surveys and descriptive researches. Important ones are:

(i) observation method, (ii) interview method,
(iii) through questionnaires,(iv) through schedules, and
(v) other methods which include:
(a) warranty cards; (b) distributor audits;
(c) pantry audits; (d) consumer panels;
(e) using mechanical devices; (f) through projective techniques; (g) depth interviews, and (h) content analysis.
We briefly take up each method separately.

Observation Method

In studying behavioural sciences the observation method is the most commonly used method. In general we all observe things around us, but this sort of observation is not scientific in nature. Observation becomes a scientific tool and the method of data collection in a formulated research purpose for the researcher. It works systematically planned and recorded way and is used to checks and controls on validity and reliability. Under the observation method, the information is sought by way of investigator’s own direct observation without asking from the respondent. For an example, in a study relating to consumer behaviour, the investigator instead of asking the dress code used by the students of this university , may himself look at the dresses.

Advantages:

The main advantage of this method is that subjective bias is eliminated, if observation is done accurately. Secondly, the information obtained under this method relates to what is currently happening; it is not complicated by either the past behaviour or future intentions or attitudes. Thirdly, this method is independent of respondents’ willingness to respond and as such is relatively less demanding of active cooperation on the part of respondents as happens to be the case in the interview or the questionnaire method. This method is particularly suitable in studies which deal with subjects (i.e., respondents) who are not capable of giving verbal reports of their feelings for one reason or the other.

Disadvantages:

Firstly, it is an expensive method.
Secondly, the information provided by this method is very limited.

Thirdly, sometimes unforeseen factors may interfere with the observational task. At times, the fact that some people are rarely accessible to direct observation creates obstacle for this method to collect data effectively.

It sometime occurs in our mind about participant and non-participant types of observation in the context of studies, particularly of social sciences. This distinction can be defined, if the observer observes by making himself, more or less, a member of the group he is observing so that he can experience what the members of the group experience, the observation is called as the participant observation. But when the observer observes as a detached emissary without any attempt on his part to experience through participation what...
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