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Methods of Data Collection

Methods of Data Collection

I remember going to a restaurant and finding a small piece of paper on the table with questions about the food, service, and environment of the restaurant. This paper was placed on every table for the customers to fill out. You may have seen this in a restaurant or in some other place you visited.

The information collected from that piece of paper will be used to determine if their customers are served correctly and to know the areas they should improve on. Surveys like this are a method of data collection.

Definition of Data Collection Methods

Let's start with the meaning of data collection method.

Data collection methods are methods used to gather, measure and analyze data.

Data collected provides information, insight and understanding of a particular topic or group of people. Data collection is used in various sectors, like the education sector and the business sector. Scientists also collect data when researching a subject. Collecting data is very useful, and you must ensure that the data is accurate.

Data collected can be used to:

  • make predictions;

  • get information;

  • make decisions;

  • improve products and services;

  • find ways to better handle situations; and

  • observe and predict trends.

Data collection must be done carefully to come to an accurate conclusion. Before selecting a method to use you must:

  • understand the research or topic;

  • know the aim of the research;

  • know the type of data you want to collect;

  • consider how long you are willing to spend; and

  • consider the depth of information you intend to get.

Let's take a look at some examples of data collection methods.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Methods of Data Collection

It is difficult to consider the advantages and disadvantages of different types of data collection when you don't have a good idea of what they are and how they are used! So first let's look at some of the types of methods, and then with each type the advantages and disadvantages are listed.

Examples of Data Collection Methods

Here are some methods of data collection:

  1. Interview method - used when you want to ask people an open-ended question.

  2. Survey method - used when there are a limited number of answers people can give to a question.

  3. Observation method - often used with animals, where they don't know they are being watched.

  4. Documents and Records - historical societies collect documents and records to get an idea of what happened in their area over a given period of time.

  5. Focus Groups - you are probably familiar with these from the products you buy!

  6. Oral Histories - these are often used for collecting information on family history.

  7. Census method - the US does a census every 10 years!

  8. Experiment method - you have probably already done experiments and collected data in one of your science classes.

Let's look at some of these methods in more detail, along with their advantages and disadvantages.

Interview Method of Data Collection

The interview method is a common method of data collection. It is commonly used by scientists. It usually involves an in-person conversation between two people, but with technology advancing, there are ways to conduct interviews without being in the same room with them.

An interview is a meeting between two persons where one person asks questions and the other respond.

Interviews can be conducted over the phone or online via some video platform, audio platform or chatting platform. The purpose of conducting an interview is to collect data and gather information. So, the length of the interview and the depth of the questions you will ask depends on the amount or level of information you wish to acquire.

In-person interviews are usually expensive and time-consuming. Because of the expense, other forms of interviews (online, over the phone, etc.) are sometimes used, but in-person interviews are more effective at getting answers to open-ended questions than the other forms. With in-person interviews, you have the opportunity to ask follow-up questions based on the initial response that you get. You can hear the tone in which the question is answered, and you can notice the body language and mood of the person while answering. This will help you determine how accurate the answers you are getting are. With in-person interviews, information relating to appearance cannot be falsified.

Interviews can be personal, in groups, or even in a panel. It can be tiring and time-consuming if there are many people to be interviewed. Some tools you can use to collect data during interviews are an audio recorder, digital camera, camcorder, and pen and paper.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Interview Method

Some of the advantages are:

  1. You can get in-depth information and use open-ended questions.

  2. You can ask follow-up questions based on the response and reaction of the person being interviewed.

  3. Data is usually accurate.

  4. It is easy to target your audience.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  1. It can be expensive.

  2. It can be tiring and time-consuming when there are many people to interview.

Survey Method of Data Collection

A survey is a method of data collection. It is used to get information on people's preferences and opinions, especially concerning a product or service. It is also referred to as sample survey method. With surveys, it is easy to get to your target audience, especially when the survey is distributed online. Surveys can be distributed via phone call, mail, email, social media or face to face.

The questions and content of a survey need to be planned and structured properly. If not, the survey will not be effective because you will not be there to observe the person taking the survey and ask follow-up questions like in an interview. So, the survey has to contain everything necessary and possible responses to the survey need to be thought out ahead of time.

Online surveys are good if you are concerned about ease of data management, and cost-effectiveness. When distributed online, surveys can reach many people. Sometimes, you may not get accurate information from online surveys because some people might want to give answers that they think are acceptable rather than their true opinions.

An example of when you can use the survey method is if you want to get information from students in a school about the meals they are being served. For more information on the survey method, you can read our articles on Survey Sampling Methods and Sources of Bias in Surveys.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survey Method

Some of the advantages are:

  1. It can reach many people, especially when distributed digitally (online).

  2. It is not expensive to do.

  3. The data is easier to analyze.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  1. There may be no way to reach out to the participants of the survey if there is a problem with it.

  2. Some of the questions in the survey may not be answered, or the answers may be incomplete.

  3. Some of the answers given may not be accurate. The participant may want to give answers that they think you would want instead of what they truly think.

Observation Method of Data Collection

Observation is a method of data collection where information is got by examining a situation, person or thing. With this method of data collection, you don't need to interact with the subjects of the study. All you have to do is pay attention to details, and notice and observe the interactions, reactions, behaviors and trends that you see. This method is also referred to as observational study method.

Observation involves studying and analyzing the behavior of the subject (which can be an individual, animal or any living thing) and how it interacts with others and its environment. In some cases, the subject doesn't have to know that it is being observed. This will take out the awkwardness or unwillingness some people may have with participating in a study. It will also give accurate data because there is no pretense.

There are different types of observation, including

  • the structured observation which involves the researcher or in this case, the observer using a particular process for observation.

  • the naturalistic observation, where the subject is unaware that it is being watched and is observed in its natural environment.

  • the participant observation, where the researcher or observer becomes part of the environment that is being observed.

Imagine you just developed a product, and you want to get some feedback on the user experience. You can get this with the observation method. If you watch and observe different individuals using the product, you can see how they feel when interacting with the product. You can observe the point where they are happy, angry, frustrated or confused with the product. Based on these observations, you will be able to ask questions that will lead to the improvement of your product.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Observation Method

Some of the advantages are:

  1. The data is collected with little or no interruption from the participants, especially because the participant may not know that they are being observed.

  2. You can tell if your product is good or bad based on the reactions of the participants when interacting with the product.

  3. Data collected is accurate.

Some of the disadvantages are:

  1. It can be expensive.

  2. Not everyone likes to be observed and can be offended when they realize they are being observed without their consent.

  3. There may be bias during observation and data collection.

Census Method of Data Collection

In this method, data is obtained from each member of a population. The population of interest can be a specific area, a small or large group of people or even the whole world. The census method is not limited to just human beings. It also applied to animals and other things.

Using this method is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, it is most suitable to use it when there are enough financial resources, when there is enough time to collect data or when the population is not very large.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Census Method

10

Experiment Method of Data Collection

This is a method of data collection that allows you to manipulate a variable and observe its effect on another variable. Doing this gives an understanding of the interaction and relationship between elements or variables, the cause and effect of behavior and the activities going on in the environment.

The variable that is manipulated is called the independent variable and the variable that is affected is called the dependent variable.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Experiment Method

Some advantages are:

  1. It allows you to explore all possible relationships between the variables or elements you are studying.

  2. It can be used in various fields of science like medicine, engineering, agriculture, psychology, etc.

  3. It gives you as the researcher a high level of control because you can manipulate and change the circumstance and observe the effect.

  4. The results obtained can be duplicated and confirmed by creating the same conditions and doing the same experiment.

Some disadvantages are:

  1. Because of the freedom to manipulate, the researcher might try to create conditions to give the desired outcome which might make the results unreliable.

  2. It can be expensive and time-consuming.

  3. This method is not always feasible. There can be situations where the variables cannot be manipulated or where the procedures of the experiment are unethical.

  4. In the case where an environment is created under certain conditions to get the desired result, the result obtained may not be achievable in real life because such conditions may not exist.

Methods of Data Collection - Key takeaways

  • Data collection methods are methods used to gather, measure and analyze data.
  • Some examples of data collection methods are:
    1. Interview method.
    2. Survey method.
    3. Observation method.
    4. Documents and Records.
    5. Focus Groups.
    6. Oral Histories.
  • Before selecting a method to use, you must first understand the research or topic, know the aim of the research, know the type of data you want to collect, know how long you are willing to spend and consider the depth of information you intend to get.

Frequently Asked Questions about Methods of Data Collection

There are several ones some are:


Interview methods.

Sampling methods.

Observational methods.

They are the methods by which data can be gathered. The methods of data collection are below.

  1. Interview method.
  2. Survey method.
  3. Observation method.
  4. Documents and Records.
  5. Focus Groups.
  6. Oral Histories.
  7. Sampling method.

The quantitative method of data collection is the method that involves getting numerical and statistical data about a specific topic or study.

Observation is a method of data collection where information is got by examining a situation, person or thing. Information is got by studying and analyzing the behavior of the subject (which can be an individual, animal or any living thing) and how it interacts with others and its environment. 

The questionnaire method of data collection involves getting information on people's preferences and opinions, by asking series of questions.  

Final Methods of Data Collection Quiz

Question

What does data collection method mean?

Show answer

Answer

Data collection methods are methods used to gather, measure and analyze data.

Show question

Question

What are some things you should consider before selecting a data collection method?

Show answer

Answer

 Before selecting a method to use, you must first understand the research or topic, know the aim of the research, know the type of data you want to collect, know how long you are willing to spend and consider the depth of information you intend to get.

Show question

Question

List some examples of data collection method.

Show answer

Answer

  1. Interview method.
  2. Survey method.
  3. Observation method.
  4. Documents and Records.
  5. Focus Groups.
  6. Oral Histories.

Show question

Question

Which data collection method is commonly used by scientist?

Show answer

Answer

The interview data collection method is mostly used by scientist.

Show question

Question

List some advantages of the interview method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. You can get in-depth information.
  2. You can ask follow-up questions based on the response and reaction of the person being interviewed.
  3. Data is usually accurate.
  4. It is easy to get to your target audience.

Show question

Question

List some disadvantages of the interview method of interview method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. It can be expensive.
  2. It can be tiring and time-consuming when there are many people to interview.

Show question

Question

List some advantages of the survey method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. It can reach many people, especially when distributed digitally (online).
  2. It is not expensive.
  3. The data is easy to analyze.

Show question

Question

List some disadvantages of the survey method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. There may be no way to reach out to the participants of the survey if needed.
  2. Some of the questions in the survey may not be answered, or the answers may be incomplete.
  3. Some of the answers given may not be accurate. The participant may want to give answers that they think you would want instead of what they truly think.

Show question

Question

List some advantages of the observation method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. The data is collected easily and quickly because of little or no interruption from the participants, especially because the participant may not know that they are being observed.
  2. You can tell if your product is good or bad based on the reactions of the participants when interacting with the product.
  3. Data collected are accurate.

Show question

Question

List some disadvantages of the observation method of data collection.

Show answer

Answer

  1. It can be expensive.
  2. Not everyone likes to be observed and can be offended when they realize they are being observed without their consent.
  3. There maybe bias during observation and data collection.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes the observation method of data collection?

Show answer

Answer

It involves studying and analyzing the behavior of the subject and how it interacts with others and its environment.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes the interview method of data collection?

Show answer

Answer

It usually involves an in-person conversation between two people.

Show question

Question

Which of the following best describes the survey method of data collection?

Show answer

Answer

When distributed online, it can reach many people.

Show question

Question

What is the observation method of data collection?

Show answer

Answer

Observation is a method of data collection where information is got by examining a situation, person or thing. Information is got by studying and analyzing the behavior of the subject (which can be an individual, animal or any living thing) and how it interacts with others and its environment. 

Show question

Question

Which method of data collection allows you to ask follow-up question based on the response of an initial question?

Show answer

Answer

Interview method

Show question

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