Data Collection Methods

Topics: Qualitative research, Observation, Scientific method Pages: 8 (1701 words) Published: March 12, 2013
Factors that influence the selection of data collection instruments Data Collection is an important aspect of any type of research study. Inaccurate data collection can impact the results of a study and ultimately lead to invalid results. Data collection methods for impact evaluation vary along a continuum. At the one end of this continuum are quantitative methods and at the other end of the continuum are Qualitative methods for data collection.

A data collection instrument is a tool for monitoring or measuring an activity, behaviour or phenomena. It can be used to measure status, progress, shortcomings, performance, achievement, attitudes, or other particular attributes of the objects to be analysed.

The most common data collection instruments include the questionnaire, interview guides, direct observation,

The following factors influence the selection of data collection instruments: 1. Utility

Under the utility the purpose and use of data collection should be considered: If the researcher seek a point-in-time determination of a behavior, or to examine the range and variety of experiences, or to tell an in-depth story. Another criteria under the utility, is the users of data collection and will some methods make the data more credible with skeptics or key users?

2. Feasibility

Sometimes the ideal method isn’t feasible due to time or monetary constraints and the data collector or the researcher should focus on the Resources available and this would help him Which methods can you afford. On the Time aspect he would ask himself how long until the results are needed.

The last criteria to be given attention is the background of the researcher if he/she is trained in the method, or will you need help from an outside consultant.

3. Propriety

A very important aspect in selecting the data collection instrument is the Characteristics of the respondents: Will issues such as literacy or language make some methods preferable to others?

Degree of intrusion to program/participants should be focused: A data collection method would no disrupt the program or be seen as intrusive by participants and lastly other ethical issues: Are there issues of confidentiality or respondents’ safety in seeking answers to questions on this issue?

4. Accuracy

Under the accuracy, the nature of the issue or the research should guide the researcher in selecting the best instrument: the nature can be about an observable behavior. Sensitivity of the issue should also be a guiding pillar in the selection process and the extent of the openness and honest the respondents will be answering questions on this issue.

One should consider all of these factors to arrive at a decision. Usually a compromise is reached that will produce a balance among these criteria without violating any of them to the point that the technique. Sometimes a single method is not sufficient to accurately measure an activity or outcome because the thing being measured is complex and/or the data method/source does not yield data reliable or accurate enough.  Employing multiple methods (sometimes called “triangulation”) helps increase the accuracy of the measurement and the certainty of your conclusions when the various methods yield similar results.  Mixed data collection refers to gathering both quantitative and qualitative data.  Mixed methods can be used sequentially, when one method is used to prepare for the use of another, or concurrently.  An example of sequential use of mixed methods is when focus groups (qualitative) are used to develop a survey instrument (quantitative), and then personal interviews (qualitative and quantitative) are conducted to investigate issues that arose during coding or interpretation of survey data.  An example of concurrent use of mixed methods would be using focus groups or open-ended personal interviews to help affirm the response validity of a quantitative survey.

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