Data Collection Methods

THE INTERVIEWER:  David Frost is probably the world's most prominent interviewer.
THE INTERVIEWER: David Frost is probably the world's most prominent interviewer.

Continuedf from: Measurement Scales

Once a research question has been agreed upon, a research design is formulated which includes an appropriate and effective method for collecting data. It has been rightly said by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) that ‘it is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.’

In business research, data is collected from various sources and a variety of methods or techniques are used in its collection. It may be from a secondary source or primary source. In case of latter, it could be census or survey, laboratory experiment or field experiment, open or hidden observation.

Each method has pros and cons. When population is large, it is neither necessary nor advisable to cover each and every member but a sample would suffice. It is quicker, cheaper and, if well-designed, it can provide precise information about characteristics of the population. On the other hand, causal inference can only be drawn from experiments. So choice of the method depends upon time, money and objectives.

OBSERVATIONS

Observation is a primary method of collecting data by human, mechanical, electrical or electronics means with direct or indirect contact. As per Langley P, “Observations involve looking and listening very carefully. We all watch other people sometimes but we do not usually watch them in order to discover particular information about their behavior. This is what observation in social science involves.”

Observation is the main source of information in the field research. The researcher goes into the field and observes the conditions in their natural state.

There are many types of observation, direct or indirect, participant or non-participant, obtrusive or non-obtrusive, structured or non-structured. The observation is important and actual behavior of people is observed and not what people say they did or feel. For example, people value health but they would pick up food they know to fatty. It is useful when the subject cannot provide information or can only provide inaccurate information like people addicted to drugs. But at the same time, in observation the researcher does not get any insight into what people may be thinking.

OBTRUSIVE AND UNOBTRUSIVE

Obtrusive mean visible, thrusting out or evident. It is like class monitor, traffic warden or inspector. On the other hand, unobtrusive mean hidden, camouflaged or low-key. In such method, the researcher is not required to intrude. Also, it reduced bias. It enables to obtain data from a source other than people like instead of asking people which soft drink they like, an unobtrusive source would to collect empty cans from garbage dumps and analyse their brands. There are other such examples: to ascertain popularity of journal, one can observe its wear and tear in a library. Also, entry counters in a supermarket provide very strong evidence that from which side the customers come in. Likewise, number of hits on a web site can be related to its usefulness or popularity. Hidden cameras can show consumer behavior in the store.

PARTICIPATIVE OR NON-PARTICIPATIVE

In participative observation, the observers becomes a participant in the program or culture or context being observed. It may require long time as the researcher needs to become accepted as a natural part of the culture. On the other hand, if one needs to observe child-mother interactions, one would resort to non-participative observations looking from a one-way mirror to note verbal or non-verbal cues being given by the mother and the child.

Presentation I : OBSERVATIONS

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IN-DEPTH TECHNIQUES

In a survey, usually general questions are asked to know what customers or subjects do and think. But it one wants to know ‘why they feel that way’, one has to conduct an in-depth research. In survey, answers may depend on the mood of the respondent. As such, the survey shows how one feels at one particular time. But in in-depth research, long and probing interviews are taken to find out customers satisfaction and loyalty, usage, awareness and brand recognition etc. as discussed below:

FOCUS GROUP

A group is formed of 8 to 12 persons. They are selected keeping in view the targeted market. The group members are asked about their attitude towards a concept, product, service, packing or advertisement. Questions are asked in an interactive-group-setting where members are free to talk to each other. A moderator guides through the discussion. Through one-way mirror, the client or its representative observes the discussion, interpret facial expression and body language.

There are some draw-backs. There is lesser control of the moderator or researcher and it lead to irrelevant discussions. Moreoveer, individual members consciously or unconsciously conform to what they perceive to be the consensus of the group, a situation called “Group-think”.

The technology has give rise to “Modern Group” where group-members participate “on-line” and can share financial and operating data, pictures, voices and drawings etc.

PANELS

These are more or less like Focus Group. But Focus groups are formed for one-time discussion to decide about a particular issue. On the contrary, panels are of long-term nature for meeting frequently to resolve an issue. These can be current customers or potential customers; can be static or dynamic (members coming and going).

Another difference is that penal are selected by the organizers through certain criteria like education, exposure and interest. Of course, there are exception like Microsoft Panel for Research and Evaluation of their software which are formed through open invitation.

IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS

In-depth interviews, also called as one-to-one interviews, are expensive in term of time and money but are good for exploring several factors. Problems identified in an interview may be a symptom of a serious problem.

The interviews may be conducted face to face or through telephone or these could be computer assisted interviews. Nowadays, television interviews have become more common.

But interviews are fraught with bias from three sources, the interviewer, the interviewee and the interview setting. The interviewer may misinterpret the response or distort it while writing down. He may unintentionally encourage certain responses though gestures and facial impressions. The interviewee may not give his or her true opinion or avoid difficult questions. The setting may be good or bad creating comfort or discomfort. It may be open or in presence of some colleagues or senior or level of trust may be inadequate.

In order to minimize bias, the interviewer should have knowledge, skill and confidence. Rapport and trust should be established in the interview.

PROJECTIVE METHODS

A psychological test in which a subject's responses to ambiguous or unstructured standard stimuli, such as a series of cartoons, abstract patterns, or incomplete sentences, are analyzed in order to determine underlying personality traits and feelings. This entails indirect question which enables the respondent to “project beliefs and feelings onto a third party". The respondents are expected to interpret the situation through their own experience, attitude and personality and express hidden opinion and emotions.

Of many techniques, word association, sentence completing and ink-blot tests are very common. In these techniques, both verbal and non-verbal (hesitation, time-lag and facial expression) are noted and interpreted.

Such tests are useful for finding out consumer preference, buying attitude and behavior. Eventually, these are used for product development or finding out reason for failure of an apparently efficient product.

Presentation II: IN-DEPTH TECHNIQUES

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EXPERIMENT FIELD AND LAB

Considerable data is generated or collected through experimentation in business research. A bank may conduct an experiment to know what attracts depositors: profit or security or liquidity. In a lab experiment, a group of 50 participants would be given chips representing money and would be shown three banks of which one was giving highest profitability, second was more "secure" and third provided liquidity through ATM and quick cheque processing system. The participants would be asked to deposit their chips with any of them. The total with each bank would be calculated and chips returned to participants. In the next round, the three banks would be rated equal expect one would be giving high returns and the participants would be asked to make their deposits. The experiment would go on and the data generated may point out a cause-and-effect relationship between any of the three motives and deposits.

In case of field experiment, a bank may advertise that one of its branches is celebrating 100thanniversary and is offering 3% over and above its normal returns of 6%. If high return attracts more deposits, the clients would shift their saving towards that branch but if clients feel convenience is more important, there would not change in deposit levels..

One of the differences between lab and field experiment is use of real players or mock players. In other words use of actual clients or volunteers.

Presentation III: EXPERIMENT

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Survey

 Surveys are based on short interviews either face-to-face or on telephone.  These are based on simple questions. Also, there are computer-assisted interviews.

Survey can be performed by sending a questionnaire and quantifying the response when questionnaires are returned.

This is explained in the following power-point presentation:

Presentation IV: SURVEYS

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Conclusion

Methods of collection data depends upon (i) nature of problem, and (iii) time and money available. Mostly, data is collected through use of secondary source. If no such data is available from liberaries or on the internet, one has to collect primary data for which a number of methods are available such as observations, indepth techniques, experiments and surveys.

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Comments 88 comments

Rufi Shahzada profile image

Rufi Shahzada 6 years ago from Karachi

Dear Sir,

Very impressive and knowledgeable HUB, DATA COLLECTION METHODS are explained so well. I like the OBSERVATION part the most.

Thanks!

Regards,

RUFI SHAHZADA


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank Rufi.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

this is very informative one hafeezrm, social research techniques in gathering data are great...Maita


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Maita.


Ubedullah Khan Mahsood 6 years ago

Dear Hafeez ur Rehman Malik,

your this article of data collection method, bring me a lot of knowledge and information, and i hope it will also helpful for others,i think your this approach will be considerable for every one in field of research, hope you will provide us precious knowledge in future.

thanks, may you live long.


kamran 6 years ago

dear sir. very good efforts for elaborating data collection techniques....very helpful for doing project after writing project abstract. thnx


suparna sil 6 years ago

Very Good, Received a lot of knowledge from this article


AuspiciousKea profile image

AuspiciousKea 6 years ago from Alameda, California

Great, in-depth article! I just added a link to it from an article of mine discussing data collection for sumall business. Thanks for the great reference.


Hari 6 years ago

I got a lot knowlede from above data collection methods . Thanks for that.But i would like to know about the Simulation method of data collection.could you explain me please


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Simulation means trying every possible combination. A plant could be established using labour-intensive techology or capital-intensive technology, can be located near the source of raw material or market, can be based on local market or export market. If so, there are 8 scenarios i.e. 2x2x2. So we can make 8 profit and loss accounts and choose that combination which gives the best results.


iram 6 years ago

very deeply knowledge about datacollection techniques but explain non participative clearly please


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 6 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thank you Iram for your comments.

There are many types of observations, one being non-participative. Think of a Sunday-market. Among the shopkeepers one could be a researcher who besides attending customers is also taking notes on their behavior, likes and dislike. This would be participative. In another siutation, he or she may move around each shop and note the same in different situations but non involving himself or herself in the selling process. This would be non-participative observation.


zubair arif 5 years ago

Very informative hub! Thank you sir


shahzad 5 years ago

excellent


MUHWEZI AMISI 5 years ago

GOOD WORK FOR GENERATIONS!

THANK YOU!


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great article..Thanks


sammy 5 years ago

hey gr88... i really liked d article..coz it gives lot of information i need..just wanna ask one question -

if a person wants to make a survey,where he can get the suggestions or say the answer to all his questions related to his business.In short customers reaction/interest towards a product??


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

It depends upon the product. If a luxury item, one can go to posh area for survey etc.


okiri ogiro 5 years ago

Great article, especially observation article explained well,i will refer your article in my college assignment concern observation data collection,thx Hafee.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks for your comments, Okiri Ogioro.


Ajay Khare 5 years ago

great article sir. I don't have word to express. simply thanks.


yinka 5 years ago

i dont know you but thanks. this is really helpful


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Ajay Khare and Yinka for your comments.


florence 5 years ago

thank you sir 4 elaborating more 4 us the observation technique bse i have gained more and passed the work given to me through this


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

You are welcome Florence.


Victoriya 5 years ago

Dear Sir,

The information is really interesting. But what methods do are the most effective while analyzing the secondary data? Not all research can involve primary data analyses.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 5 years ago from Pakistan Author

In case of secondary data, certain questions are raised?

(i) Is it relevant to our problem, (ii) when it was collected, (iii) for what purpose, (iv) who collected it, and (v) what methodology was used for collection? Also whether it was re-checked or not?

There are no methods for collection but only location of sources and validation through above question.


HASNI 4 years ago

very informative


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @Hasni for your comments.


Caudene 4 years ago

Wow! I wish you were my lecturer! pretty clear and consise. Thank you sir.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Caudene for your comments.


ecoggins profile image

ecoggins 4 years ago from Corona, California

Most excellent hub! Very clear and precise! Thank you!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @ecoggins for your comments.


ABISCO 4 years ago

This is a very good work and thank you so much because it has really helped me greatly and i am so its the same for many others. keep it up


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @ABISCO for your comments.


ranjitha meesala 4 years ago

gud article sir, thanx a lot, it was helpful for my exams,can u plz tl me the difference between data approach and data collection method


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

I have never came across the term 'data approach'. It may be approach to data collection. If so, approach maybe a way, means of arriving, plan of action, strategy etc.

Thank you Ranjitha Meesala for going through my article.


Nivesh Agarwal 4 years ago

It hepls me a lot.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Nivesh Agarwal.


Asghar 4 years ago

Dear Sir!

Very informative article but mainly tackels with buisness orientied research.presently Im working on a research project related to HIV/AIDS in pakistan. Can I get some help from your end in this regard.

Thanks


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Dear Asghar,

I may comment on your research process but nothing beyond. It takes lot of time to solve my own problems.


jane 4 years ago

thanks for ur help


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Jane for visiting my page.


aaa 4 years ago

can you give more examples of previous studies using these articals, if do not mind


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

You may be referring to secondary data which is not covered by this article entitled "Data Collection Methods" since secondary data is already available in libraries,Internet,journals,films,videos, pictures and above all "previous studies".


Kayla 4 years ago

please sir san you be more specific on the type of data that needs to be collected in simulation.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Simulation means trying every possible combination. A plant could be established using labor-intensive technology or capital-intensive technology, can be located near the source of raw material or market, can be based on local market or export market. If so, there are 8 scenarios i.e. 2x2x2. So we can make 8 profit and loss accounts and choose that combination which gives the best results.


Habib 4 years ago

Sir, thank you for this page. i want to know that if i collect data from Facebook through observing, will it be primary data or secondary data? i am waiting for your reply. my email id is: habibdu77@gmail.com


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Dear Habib,

Primary data is the one which is fresh and collected for a specific research question. So if you are going through face-book to observe certain behavior, it would be primary data which would bring out something new.

But before you do so, you must check whether similar information have already been collected and is available in any form.


timothy nderitu 4 years ago

data collection explained in a simple well to understand language especially for people like me with very little research background . thank you


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Timothy Nderitu for your comments.


Muhammad Adil Khan 4 years ago

Sir,

Your great efforts in your research work.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Mr. Mohammad Adil Khan for your comments.


Krystal S. 4 years ago

Very informatative. This will be helpful in conducting my research on sponsorship. Thanks a lot


Nyatum doke 4 years ago

Nice article. Thanks..!


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Nyatum Doke for your comments.


Akeem Bosun 4 years ago

May Allah reward you Sir.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @Collection Company and Akeem Bosun for your comments.


Haroon baban iya 4 years ago

Thanks we really apreciated it much.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Haroon Baban iya for your comments.


sheryar khan 4 years ago

can you kindly upload the secondary methods of collecting the information, although primary is important too but our most research is based upon secondary methods.

if material is readily available to you on such topic then kindly forward it to me for my smooth start of research.

my e-mail id is sheryaarkhaan@gmail.com

thanks

waiting for your response


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Consult some standard text books. Secondary data comes under literature review.


Waseem 4 years ago

Sir i have a humble request


sinead 4 years ago

how does a company meeting and a value exercise stand up as a data gathering stretegy?


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

@Sinead. Question is not clear.


sinead 4 years ago

i have been asked to evaluate some various data gathering strategies, including a values exercise and a company meeting? i have many textbooks but none seem to address these as data gathering strategies?


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

@sinehead. This hub contains all methods of data collection.

for value exercises, please study the following:

http://www.luc.edu/sbacareers/pdfs/resources_activ...

http://www.sustainable-employee-motivation.com/per...

http://www.culturesync.net/happiness


sinead 4 years ago

thank you...


Waseem 4 years ago

Sir, i would like to know how many and what are the types of observations used in data collection process for research. can you suggest some examples also. can you give some references of books that i can consult online.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Broadly speaking, observations are direct or indirect. The direct observations cover participative and non-participative. Also obtrusive or unobtrusive. While indirect could be mechanical or electronic.

Kindly go to : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observational_techniq...


Waseem 4 years ago

thank you very much sir. its so very nice of you to help me.


kidume coconut 4 years ago

thanks sir . For this useful article and god bless you.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks @KidumeCocunut for your comments.


shantai 4 years ago

it was very educational it help me in my mathematics homework


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Shantai for your comments.


cynthia 4 years ago

thank u sir for this wonderful article. But sir, pls i want you to elaborate more on field and laboratory experiments. I am asked to 'discuss laboratory experiments and field experiments as modes of observation.

Pls am anticipating on ur reply. Have a nice weekend


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

This topic has been covered in the article. Click on Presentation III and you will have the answer.


RAVI L 4 years ago

THANKS Sir has been covered in the article


dhiraj kumar alok 4 years ago

sir i am really impressed from this article. this helps me a lot in completing my assignment work. thank u sir.


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Ravi and Dhiraj Kumar for your nice comments.


Atif 4 years ago

Sir, very informative. could you please inform is there any difference between KINDS of Observation and TYPES of Observation. Moreover, could you please upload the direct & indirect and structured & non structured part of observation alongwith details of participant and non participant observation. Thanks


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Thanks Atif for your comments. Kinds and types are one and the same. The rest of your question has already been covered in this article.


hosea 4 years ago

thank you hafrrzrm.but my question is,what is the most appriopriate method that can be used to collet information of a particular brand which has beebn sold at substancialy low price but the the brand sells highly in regions of higher incomes?


hafeezrm profile image

hafeezrm 4 years ago from Pakistan Author

Low-priced item in high-income group. What sort of information you want to collect? The method of collection will depend upon how much resource you have in term of time and money.


Ambig.data 4 years ago

It seems as if a lot of people find this article of yours useful, im glad, however I am looking for something more on the process of these interviews and surveys. What are the necessary questions etc. I know the questions will vary depending on the project.. but is there a guidline that on can go by ?


Dewan shivani 3 years ago

good article.............it is very helpful for me in research paper


Maryam Vaziri 3 years ago

Salam and thank you so much for such a good not sir.


effa soliz 3 years ago

dear sir am satisfied with the xplanations especially on observation and survey methods of collecting data

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