Data Collection Methods

Data collection is a process of gathering information from all the relevant sources to find a solution to the research problem. It helps to evaluate the outcome of the problem. The data collection method is divided into two categories namely,

  • Primary Data Collection methods
  • Secondary Data Collection methods

In this article, let us discuss the different types of data collection methods and their advantages and limitations.

Primary Data Collection Methods

Primary data or raw data is a type of information that is obtained directly from the first-hand source through experiments, surveys, or observations. The primary data collection method is further classified into two types. They are

Quantitative Data Collection Methods

It is based on mathematical calculations using various formats like close-ended questions, correlation and regression methods, mean, median or mode methods. This method is cheaper than qualitative data collection methods, and it can be applied in a short duration of time.

Qualitative Data Collection Methods

It does not involve any mathematical calculations. This method is closely associated with elements that are not quantifiable. This qualitative data collection method includes interviews, questionnaires, observations, case studies etc. There are several methods to collect primary data. They are

Observation Method

Observation method is used when the study relates to behavioural science. This method is planned systematically. It subjects many controls and checks. The different types of observations are:

  • Structured and unstructured observation
  • Controlled and uncontrolled observation
  • Participant, non-participant and disguised observation

Interview Method

The method of collecting data in terms of oral or verbal responses. It is achieved in two ways, such as

  • Personal Interview – In this method, a person known as an interviewer is required to ask questions face to face to the other person. The personal interview can be structured or unstructured, direct investigation, focused conversation etc.
  • Telephonic Interview – In this method, an interviewer obtains information by contacting people on the telephone to ask the questions or views orally.

Questionnaire Method

In this method, the set of questions are mailed to the respondent. They should read, reply and subsequently return the questionnaire. The questions are printed on the definite order on the form. A good survey should have the following things:

  • Short and simple
  • Should follow a logical sequence
  • Provide adequate space for answers
  • Avoid technical terms
  • Should have good physical appearance such as colour, quality of the paper to attract the attention of the respondent

Schedules

This method is similar to the questionnaire method with a slight difference. The enumerations are specially appointed for the purpose of filling the schedules. It explains the aims and objects of the investigation and may remove misunderstandings if any have come up. Enumerations should be trained to perform their job with hard work and patience.

Secondary Data Collection Methods

Secondary data is data collected by someone other than the actual user. It means that the information is already available, and someone analyses it. The secondary data includes magazines, newspapers, books, journals etc. It may be either published data or unpublished data.

Published data are available in various resources including

  • Government publications
  • Public records
  • Historical and statistical documents
  • Business documents
  • Technical and trade journals

Unpublished data includes

  • Diaries
  • Letters
  • Unpublished biographies etc.

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