Various Primary Data Collection Methods

Primary Data

What is primary data? This should be understood before going towards the methods of collection for it. The collection of data from direct sources is called primary data. Researchers collect this data through interviews, surveys, and experiments. Primary data sources are usually customized according to the requirements of the research. Before choosing a data source, the identification of the aim of the research is a must.

Collection Methods

We can use different methods to collect primary data. The details of methods/tools used in collecting this kind of data are as follows;

Interviews

An interview is a type of data collection that involves two persons. One is the interviewer, and the other is the interviewee. The questions and answers during an interview may be verbal or oral, depending on the case. Interviews can take place in two ways. These include in-person and telephonic interviews.

An in-person interview happens in a face-to-face fashion. The interviewer or groups of interviewers ask questions of the interviewee. In-person interviews are helpful. During an in-person interview, the interviewer can ask detailed questions.

But telephonic interviews take place over voice or video calls. The persons involved in the interview decide on the method of the interview. They may vote to use voice or skype for the interviews.

Pros

  • Collection of In-depth information
  • Detection of biasness  
  • Controlling of samples

Cons

  • Time-consuming
  • Expensive
  • Biases of the interviewer might be a problem

Surveys or Questionnaires

Surveys and questionnaires are two similar data collection techniques. They may comprise a group of questions to be typed, or written down. These are then sent to the participants for responses. These are designed for statistical analysis of the responses. These methods are effective. Especially when the collection of data takes place from a diverse population. After taking the required answers, the survey is sent back to the researcher for recording aspects.

The questionnaires can be open, or close-ended. Open-ended surveys are those in which respondents plan their answers. Whereas in closed-ended questionnaires, the respondent has to pick an answer. This can be selected from a given set of options. 

There are two main types of surveys used for data collection. These include both online and offline surveys. Online surveys are fulfilled using internet-empowered devices like mobile phones, PCs, tablets, and laptops. The use of email, websites, and social media can help share questions. Yet, offline surveys need to be carried out on paper. They don’t need an internet connection either. This is why these are hard to conduct and therefore, many students prefer hiring dissertation proposal writing services.

Pros

  • Enough time to response
  • Free from biases of the researcher
  • Cheaper as compared to interviews

Cons

  • High rate of non-response biases
  • Inflexible, and can’t change the response once sent
  • Slow process

Observation

Observation is a basic way of finding out about the world around us. As human beings, we can pick up detailed information. We gather such information through our senses. This method of data collection is applied in studies related to behavioral sciences. The researcher uses observation as a scientific tool and method of collecting data. It is usually planned. Observations are also subjected to checks and controls. There are two different approaches for observation highlighted as follows;

a. Structured, or unstructured

b. Controlled, or uncontrolled

The basis of a structured, or unstructured approach is based on some factors. These factors are conditions and the style of observer among others. A structured observation satisfies all the factors. Structured observations are set up to observe behaviors that are difficult to observe within a natural setting.

A controlled, or uncontrolled approach defines the environment of research. It signifies whether the research occurred in a natural, or artificial setting. An uncontrolled study takes place in a natural setting. Whereas uncontrolled study takes place in the laboratory.

During the hiring of a new teacher, the academic institution may ask for a sample teaching class. The evaluator joins the class and observes the new teacher. He observes his way of teaching and handling the class.

Pros

  • Data is objective
  • Not affected by the researcher’s opinion
  • Not affected by past, or future events

Cons

  • Limited information
  • Expensive

Focus Group

A Focus group is a gathering to collect data. In this type, two or more people with similar attributes are gathered together. Data collection occurs through a semi-structured, group interview process. Through this method, the researcher collects data on a specific topic. The purpose of focus group discussion is to get in-depth concepts of the Business Profile. They seek open-ended thoughts and contributions from the participants. This data is used for market research. For example, a group of market consumers engages in a discussion. Data is collected through discussion with the participants. This is somewhat related to the interview. But this involves discussions and interactions instead of questions and answers.

Focus groups are less formal as they do not involve questioning and answering. It is more like open discussions with the audience. Participants do most of the talking, and the researcher gathers data this way. Each individual is required to give their point of view. In this type, there is a moderator who regulates the discussion as well.

Pros

  • Low cost
  • Takes lesser time

Cons

  • It does not mirror individual opinions
  • Response biases

Experiments

The experiment is a structured way of collecting data. The researcher tries to understand the causes and effects of the process. Furthermore, the researcher controls this method of collecting data. The researcher determines the subject of an experiment. Determination of the subject takes place in the first stage. Thus, some actions occur on these subjects. The researcher records primary data consisting of actions and reactions.

An advantage is that experiments should be objective. The views and opinions of the researcher should not affect the results of the study. This is good as in this method, data becomes more valid and less biased.

After stage 1, the researcher will analyze the data and conclusions from the results. The researchers use the method of experimentation to collect different kinds of data. This method applies to the collection of primary data within the laboratory.

Pros  

  • Objective, since the data recorded is the result of a process
  • No non-response biases

Cons

  • Collection of incorrect data due to human error
  • Expensive

Scarlett Watson

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