What Is Data Gathering Procedure
An integral part of this process is the so-called data collection. Without relevant, up-to-date information on hand, it is impossible to carry out quality research. Thus, let's explain the gather data meaning.
What Is Data Gathering Procedure in Research?
Data collection is the process of gathering quantitative or qualitative data for scientific work. From college students to scholars and scientists, many people face this procedure. The accuracy of the study depends on this stage heavily.
First of all, it's necessary to determine how you will obtain the data for your project. There are two methods - empirical (primary) and secondary source research. The first one stands for obtaining data through observation and experimentation. The secondary research is speculative inference, review, and in-depth literature analysis.
You should also differentiate between qualitative and quantitative data. Quantitative data are always represented by numbers. They can be processed by statistical methods and get some specific indicators. For example, after a survey, you can understand that 70% of visitors to a website don't use regular promotions and offers located in a specific section.
Qualitative data describe the situation. They are based on different information, including impressions, opinions, and views of different people.
Below, we will look at primary and secondary sources for data collection. You may mix the two approaches or focus on just one of them.
Methods of Collecting Data from Primary Resources
When conducting sociological or scientific research in the library or elsewhere, depending on the goals and objectives, the collection of information is carried out by different sociological methods. We can distinguish five main methods, each of which has varieties:
- Interviews and surveys
- Expert evaluation
Survey (questionnaire, mail, press, sociological interview) - finding out one's position or getting a reference from them on some issue. It is the most frequently used data gathering procedure example. For instance, approximately 90% of surveys use this method in business and marketing.
The survey method is now recognized by many scholars as a universal method of obtaining social information. The results of the research using the survey method are convincing and informative (in terms of content), expressive, and proving. It should be noted that the survey as a method (face-to-face or absentee questionnaire survey, interview) along with its direct purpose - obtaining information on the problem - serves to popularize the library and informs the population about its services, activities, etc. The offered questions always carry a certain semantic and informational load.
However, despite all the benefits of the survey, the information obtained as a result of it is not always accurate enough to solve the problem.
Interviews can be verbal (face-to-face) or written. In a written survey, participants receive survey forms (questionnaires) to fill out and hand in as assigned. The list of questions or suggestions can be sent to the target audience via email, mail, or fax. Some respondents receive questions on social media. The low return rate is the main pitfall of this approach.
In-person, or face-to-face, interviews are considered to be more reliable than telephone ones because the percentage of successfully obtained findings is higher.
Face-to-face interview (survey) - the face-to-face nature of the interviewer meeting with the respondent, usually at the place of residence or work. The interviewer has a conversation on a formalized questionnaire in order to obtain certain information. The advantages of a face-to-face interview include a high percentage of completed interviews and the ability to build large and representative samples.
Telephone interview is a telephone conversation between the interviewer and respondent using a formalized questionnaire in order to obtain certain information. This method is less reliable than the face-to-face interview because the interviewer is more limited in time, cannot show the respondent recall cards, and the percentage of successful interviews is 55-65%. As a rule, telephone interviewing uses probability sampling, which is implemented on the basis of a list of telephone network subscribers. This method can be used only in regions where the telephone coverage of the population is 85% or more.
A focused interview (focus group) is a research by a small group of specialists gathered for an in-depth discussion of a topic or problem. It is a method of qualitative marketing research, a group of randomly selected representatives of the target audience. Volunteers from a random sample of people who meet the criteria of the target audience are attracted for a small fee to conduct a focus group.
Specialists of different areas (marketers, psychologists, sociologists, etc.) conduct a series of interviews and experiments, collecting data on a variety of issues of the target audience's interest. Focus group participants are often asked questions, which, in addition to product-related questions, may be related to consumer preferences of focus group participants and even behavioral patterns and personality traits.
Observation is a general scientific method widely used in the natural sciences. Its application in sociology is limited because not all social phenomena lend themselves to direct visual and auditory perception. However, when a researcher deals with objects that can be observed, i.e., perceived through sight and hearing, they can use this method. In a library, for example, observation can be used in studying the effectiveness of the reference and bibliographic apparatus usage.
Observation has a number of advantages compared with other methods. The main one is the direct connection of the researcher with the object of study, the absence of mediating links, and the speed of retrieving relevant information. These advantages, however, do not exclude a number of drawbacks. For example, the observer voluntarily or involuntarily affects the process under study, and the efficiency turns out to be local, limited to the specific case under study, and unable to cover all the features of the phenomenon under study. In other words, this method is very subjective as the personal qualities of the observer inevitably affect the results. Therefore, the latter is subject to compulsory rechecking by other methods, and secondly, special requirements are imposed on observers.
The experiment is a method of collecting primary data, which involves the establishment of cause-and-effect relationships between the processes and phenomena under study and the identification of factors influencing them. It is a purposeful change in individual parameters of a product, such as a price, packaging, or its individual elements; completeness, level of service, etc., carried out without notifying the consumer in order to quantify the effect produced.
In an experiment, the researcher manipulates one or more independent variables to study the effect of these manipulations on the dependent (or dependent) variables while controlling for the influence of extraneous or external factors.
A panel is a special method for collecting primary information used in both marketing and sociological research. Its main peculiarity is that information coming from a group of people is collected within a certain interval of time.
The essence of the method is mainly to trace the dynamics of people's opinions and preferences. That is why the frequency of the survey is vital. When conducting panel studies, most often one particular method of collecting information is chosen. Panel studies are a serious and powerful tool for obtaining a cross-section of people's opinions. They are usually conducted for major purposes by large corporations and manufacturing companies, statistical agencies, and various global media agencies.
Expert opinion is a type of survey in which respondents are experts - highly qualified specialists in a particular field of study. The method implies the competent participation of specialists in the analysis and solution of the problem. Expert opinion is used to forecast the development of a particular phenomenon, assess the degree of reliability of a mass survey, and collect preliminary information about the research problem. In situations where the mass survey of simple respondents is not possible or not effective.
Delphi method is a form of expert questioning in which anonymous answers are collected in several stages and through reading the intermediate results. The idea is to get a group evaluation of the process under study.
The method of brainstorming is the operational method of problem-solving based on the stimulation of creative activity, in which the participants of the discussion are offered to express as many variants of the solution as possible, including the less probable ones. The most successful ideas, which can be used in practice, are selected from the total number of expressed ideas. The result is the development of enterprise missions, goals, and business or marketing strategies.
Methods of Collecting Data from Secondary Resources
Secondary research is an analysis of already known information, available either on paper or electronically. It has been previously collected by others for purposes different from the purpose of this study. The researcher using secondary information, adapts and transforms the data so that it meets new requirements. Sources of information for secondary research include:
- Internal documentation of the organization
- Personal sources
- Journals and magazines
- Government records
- Trade associations
- Information disseminators
- Specialized research companies
- Scientific publications, etc.
Internal sources of secondary information can be data from the company (reports from sales, research, etc.). External sources can be directories, books, press, etc.
Secondary research has certain limitations related to data availability, adequacy, accuracy, and sufficiency. Thus, sometimes it is impossible to use secondary sources because the relevant info does not exist yet. Often, the data from secondary research is not directly related to the question being investigated. In terms of accuracy, studies should be evaluated on their purpose, methods, providers, fidelity of analysis, consistency with information from other sources, and proximity to the primary source. The information in secondary research should be sufficient to meet a specific information need.
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