د. ناهد الجميلي
Community project lect.
Data Collection Methods
Data collection techniques allow us to systematically collect data about
our objects of study. In the collection of data, we have to be systematic.
If data are collected haphazardly, it will be difficult to answer our
research questions in a conclusive way.
On the basis of the source of collection, data may be classified as:
(a) Primary data and (b) Secondary data
(a) Primary data
are those data, which are collected by the investigator himself for the
purpose of a specific inquiry or study. Such data are original in character
and are mostly generated by surveys conducted by individuals or
research institutions. The first-hand information obtained by the
investigator is more reliable and accurate since the investigator can
extract the correct information by removing doubts, if any, in the minds
of the respondents regarding certain questions. High response rates
might be obtained since the answers to various questions are obtained
on the spot. It permits explanation of questions concerning difficult
Methods of collecting primary data
1-Direct personal investigation:
Under this method the investigator
collects the data personally from the respondent. The person who collect
the information is called the investigator and the person who gives the
responses/answers the questions asked by the investigator is called a
respondent. The data collected in this manner are therefore most reliable.
However, there is a chance that the results are influenced by the personal
bias and prejudice of the investigator.
Under this method the investigator obtains
information indirectly from a third person who is expected to know facts
about the person about whom the enquiry is done.
Under this method correspondents or agents
are appointed by the investigator to obtain data from various places.
These correspondents are required to collect and pass the transmit
information to the investigator or the central office. This method is
widely used by newspaper offices.
4-By mailed questionnaire:
Under this method a well-structured
questionnaire is prepared and mailed to the respondent by post. The
respondent after filling up the questionnaire send it back within the given
time. However, this method can only be used when respondents are
literate and can fill in the questionnaire.
Under this method the field workers are asked to
go to the respondent with questions contained in the schedule. They
collect the answers in their own hand writing and provide data to the
investigator. This method is useful when the respondent is illiterate.
(b) Secondary data
When an investigator uses data, which have already been collected by
others, such data are called "Secondary Data". Such data are primary
data for the agency that collected them, and become secondary for
someone else who uses these data for his own purposes. The secondary
data can be obtained from journals, reports, government publications,
publications of professionals and research organizations.
Secondary data are less expensive to collect both in money and time.
These data can also be better utilized and sometimes the quality of such
data may be better because these might have been collected by persons
who were specially trained for that purpose. On the other hand, such
data must be used with great care, because such data may also be full of
errors due to the fact that the purpose of the collection of the data by
the primary agency may have been different from the purpose of the
user of these secondary data. Secondly, there may have been bias
introduced, the size of the sample may have been inadequate, or there
may have been arithmetic or definition errors.
Sources of secondary data
Secondary data may exist in the form of published or unpublished form.
In its published form secondary data may be obtained from
(a) Published reports of newspapers.
(b) Publication from trade associations
(c) Financial data reported in annual reports
(d) Information from official publications
In its unpublished form secondary data may exist as
(a) Internal reports of the government departments
(b) Records maintained by the institutions
(c) Research reports prepared by students in the universities
Problems in gathering data
It is important to recognize some of the main problems that may be
faced when collecting data so that they can be addressed in the
selection of appropriate collection methods and in the training of the
Lack of adequate time
Inadequately trained and experienced staff
Cultural norms (e.g. which may preclude men interviewing women)