Primary Data

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INTRODUCTION TO THE TOPIC:

Primary research is any type of research that we go out and collect ourselves. Examples include surveys, interviews and observations. In other words information that has been collected at first hand is called primary research. It involves measurement of some sort, whether by taking readings off instruments, sketching, counting, or conducting interviews.

Conducting primary research is a useful skill to acquire as it can greatly supplement our research in secondary sources, such as journals, magazines, or books. We can also use it as the focus of our writing project.

In primary data collection, we collect the data ourselves by using methods such as interviews and questionnaires. The key point here is that the data we collect is unique to us and our research and, until we publish, no one else has access to it.

There are many methods of collecting primary data and the main methods include: •QUESTIONNAIRES
INTERVIEWS
FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEWS
SURVYES
OBSERVATION
DIARIES
ANALYSING THE DATA

The primary data, which is generated by the above methods, may be qualitative in nature usually in the form of words or quantitative usually in the form of numbers or where we can make counts of words used. Following is the detail of above mentioned methods of collecting primary data.

QUESTIONNAIRES:

Questionnaire is one of the most important forms of collecting data, but it is difficult to design and it requires many rewrites before a suitable questionnaire is shaped.

PLAN OF QUESTIONNAIRES:
Following is the way to design the best questionnaires.

Subject and covering note:

The general theme of the questionnaire should be made open in a covering letter. We should state who we are; why the data is required; give, if necessary, an assurance of confidentiality or secrecy; and contact number and address or telephone number. This ensures that the respondents know what they are committing themselves to, and also that they understand the context of their replies. If possible, we should offer an estimate of the completion time. Instructions for return should be included with the return date made obvious.

Directions for Conclusion:

We need to provide clear-cut instructions for completion. Within most questionnaires these are general instructions and specific instructions for particular question structures. It is usually best to separate these, supplying the general instructions as a opening to the questionnaire, but leaving the specific instructions until the questions to which they apply. The response method should be indicated (circle, tick, cross, etc.). Wherever possible, and certainly if a slightly unfamiliar response system is employed, we should give an example.

Look:

Appearance is usually the first feature of the questionnaire to which the recipient reacts. A neat and professional look will encourage further consideration of our request, increasing our response rate. In addition, we should careful thought that layout should help our analysis. There are a number of simple rules to help improve questionnaire appearance:

oPhoto-reduction can produce more space without reducing content. oDifferentiate between instructions and questions. Either lower case or capitals can be used, or responses can be boxed. oConsistent positioning of response boxes, usually to the right, speeds up completion and also avoids chances of omission of responses. oLiberal spacing makes the reading easier.

oChoose the font style to maximize legibility.

Length:

There may be a strong appeal to include any loosely interesting questions, but we should resist it at all costs. Excessive size can only reduce response rates. If a long questionnaire is necessary, then we must give even more thought to appearance. It is best to leave pages unnumbered; for respondents to flick to the end and see ‘page 27’ can be very confusing. Organize:

Beginning is the most crucial stage in...
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