Data Collection Methods

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Methods of data collection.

The term data means groups of information that represent the qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data are typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which information and knowledge are derived.

Data can be classified into primary and secondary data. In order to carry out research on a particular subject a researcher needs to collect data fro carrying out a research. Data is of two forms either primary or secondary. Primary data is the information that is collected first hand by researchers. A primary data source is something that originates from first-hand knowledge of the person referenced in the data or from a first-hand witness it is the data that is collected under the control and supervision of an investigator .

Some examples of primary data are;

➢ data of a study to determine the morale of the employees in company

➢ Surveys;

➢ Interviews;
➢ Focus groups;
➢ Questionnaires
A secondary data source means that the information is simply second-hand. Secondary data is the information that is already available and which is used by the researcher as source for data used in his/her research. Different forms of secondary data include: • Journals;

• Books;
• Census Data;
• Newspaper articles; and
• Biographies
The distinction between primary and secondary data is only relative .The primary data of one study will serve as secondary data of another study. For example the census data of a country is an example of primary data to find the size of its population .This in turn will serve as data to plan public distribution system of each taluk of different districts in each state of the country.The same data under a situation is secondary data.

The different methods that are used for primary data collection are; observation method, personal interview, telephone interview and questionnaires, mail survey, case study method.

Observation method
In observation the investigator will collect data through personal observation. Consider an example in which an investigator collects data about the organization climate in an organization through direct observation. Observation involves recording the behavioural patterns of people, objects and events in a systematic manner. Observational methods may be: • structured or unstructured

• disguised or undisguised
• natural or contrived
• personal
• mechanical
• non-participant
• participant, with the participant taking a number of different roles. Structured or unstructured
In structured observation, the researcher specifies in detail what is to be observed and how the measurements are to be recorded. It is appropriate when the problem is clearly defined and the information needed is specified. In unstructured observation, the researcher monitors all aspects of the phenomenon that seem relevant. It is appropriate when the problem has yet to be formulated precisely and flexibility is needed in observation to identify key components of the problem and to develop hypotheses. The potential for bias is high. Observation findings should be treated as hypotheses to be tested rather than as conclusive findings. Disguised or undisguised

In disguised observation, respondents are unaware they are being observed and thus behave naturally. Disguise is achieved, for example, by hiding, or using hidden equipment or people disguised as shoppers. In undisguised observation, respondents are aware they are being observed. There is a danger of the Hawthorne effect – people behave differently when being observed....
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