5 Popular Types of Data Collection Methods

Thanks to technological innovation, data has never been more important to the public and private sectors. Because of big data, you can learn the most intimate details of research participants and find out what you need to know to reach your project objective.

It does require a lot of work, particularly in the post-research field (crunching and analyzing is never easy!), but once you insert the findings into a spreadsheet, you will feel giddy inside.

Here are five different types of data collection methods:

1. Focus Group

A focus group is when you gather several people, ask them questions relating to the research you’re conducting, and then analyze the results. Focus groups are used by everyone, from politicians to large corporations, because they are effective at understanding the macro, initiating discussion, and study a phenomenon with qualitative data. However, you should never use a focus group for population characteristics.

Prior to commencing your research journey, it would be a good idea to select relevant, reliable, and powerful data collection tools that can enhance the efficacy of your questionnaires and focus groups. For instance, if you’re doing a focus group, then you need an excellent voice recorder and ensure that it is working well enough. It’s the minor details that make a world of difference.

2. Interview

One-on-one interviewing is a successful data collection method. This research instrument works because you have limited respondents and a good return rate to attain insight and context into a topic. It is important, however, that you perform an accurate screening of each candidate you wish to interview.

For example, if you wish to interview dog owners, but you find out that the person is a cat owner, then you’re not going to gain any valuable and pertinent information that the cat person.

Every time you start and end something in your interview, it is imperative to make notes. By maintaining notes, you are not getting lost by any sudden changes or the shift in the information. Everyone is kept up-to-date by whatever it is you did the day before. Whether it is leaving a note for the next person or jotting down developments in a notebook, keeping notes is vital.

3. Observation

Research observation is just that: Observing a group of people for research purposes. But there are two distinct types of observation:

  • Participant
  • Non-participant

The former means you will be participating in a group to study its actions, effects, and people. The latter is defined as sitting idly by and watching everything unfold from afar. Each has its own pros and cons. Participant observation might alter the behaviour of the subjects, but non-participant observation may not give you greater context into the individuals.

Critical thinking is integral to data collection through observation. Without it, you will be walking around blind without a cane. It is essential to apply critical thinking to your research needs. But what does this entail? Well, you can begin by determining what is needed, then using what is available, and then figure out what is useful. This is the best way to start the arduous process.

4. Survey

One of the most popular data collection method is the survey. Online, over the phone, or in person – the survey will never go away because it is a valuable piece of data anytime one is completed.

But it must be pointed out that surveys need to have the right methods behind them, such as contacting a random but specific part of the population (18 years of age or older, homeowner, and is self-employed) and asking relevant questions in the right order.

5. Mobile Data Collection

Let’s be honest: Mobile-based data collection is the way of the future, primarily because everyone is on their smartphone or tablet these days. As a researcher, you go where the people. Mobile data collecting is just as accurate as paper ones, but it is even better because you can collect even more data at a low cost (now we’re thinking of the budget!).

It is only normal to think about the price-tag of a research project when you are encouraged to consider the cost. Not only can mobile data collection save you in money, you also gain from these following non-monetary costs too:

  • Time
  • Respondent fatigue
  • Processing power
  • Data quality

It’s all about the data. When you’re a business or a government, data is the most valuable commodity around. Without the numbers, opinions, figures, and demographics, you cannot expect to succeed. So, by adopting the right methods and employing the best measures, you can achieve your objective of getting your hands on lucrative data.

  • Gretchen is a free-spirited blogger focused on ways to improve her spiritual and emotional health. She uses the MANDALA HEALS blog to dispense advice, tutorials & guides on various topics.

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