Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & Tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
Useful readingSupport & tools
This is the "Collect data" page of the "The research process" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content
This Libguide provides a systematic guide to the different phases and activities of a master's or doctoral research project and introduces the researcher and research student to relevant Library sources, tools and services offered along the way.
Last Updated: Jun 6, 2017 URL: http://libguides.sun.ac.za/researchprocess Print Guide RSS Updates

Collect data Print Page
  Search: 
 
 

What is data collection?

Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring information on variables of interest, in an established systematic fashion that enables one to answer stated research questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate outcomes. The data collection component of research is common to all fields of study including physical and social sciences, humanities, business, etc. While methods vary by discipline, the emphasis on ensuring accurate and honest collection remains the same.

Source:
Northern Illinois University Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. N.D. Responsible conduct of Research [Electronic]. Available at: http://ori.dhhs.gov/education/products/n_illinois_u/datamanagement/dctopic.html. Accessed: 27 July 2013

 

Data collection methods

There are a number of methods available to researchers for collecting data. The commonly used data collection methods can be divided into the following types:

Observation

  • Experimental (controlled recordings); systematic field observation; participant observartion

Interviewing

  • Structured self-administered questionnaires; structured telephone interviewing; semi-structured focus group interviewing; free attitude interviewing methods

Testing

  • Psychological or psycholometric testing

Selecting and analysing texts

  • Textual analysis; discourse analysis; conversation analysis; semiotic analysis and ethnomethodology; historical or narrative analysis

Source:
Mouton, J. 2001. How to succeed in your master's & doctoral studies: a South African guide and resource book. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

 

Different types of data

Primary data are generated and compiled by administering an original study, such as interviews, surveys, or focus groups. These types of data are designed to address a specific issue or information need that is not found in existing sources.

Secondary data come from information sources that already exist, such as statistical abstracts, state reports, historical studies, and other published literature.  These sources should be evaluated just as primary data are examined, and the information should be corroborated by using as many sources as feasible, given time and resources.

Source:
University of Illinois. A step-by-step guide to  conduction a social profile for watershed planning [Electronic]. Available at: http://www.watershedplanning.illinois.edu/profile_steps/step3.cfm. Accessed 27 July 2013

Managing your data

It is imperative that you document your data collection process as accurately and in as much detail as possible as a historical record for yourself and other possible researchers.

General guidelines for aspects of your project and data that you should document, regardless of your discipline can be found at: MIT Data Management and Publishing.  This website includes important considerations such as file formats; organising your files; backups and securitysharing your data; citing data; data integration; ethical and legal issues.

Useful information about basic, practical strategies for data management is available in the Managing Research Data 101 (PDF) guide published by MIT Libraries.

Sources:

Mouton, J. 2001. How to succeed in your master's & doctoral studies: a South African guide and resource book. Pretoria: Van Schaik

MIT Libraries. Data management and publishing [Electronic]. Available at: http://libraries.mit.edu/guides/subjects/data-management/index.html. Accessed: 27 July 2013

      
     

    Instrumentation

    The natural sciences (and increasingly in other fields) often require sophisticated instrumentation, recording devices and scientific equipment for data collection.
    Using previously validated collection instruments can save time and increase the study's credibility. However, remember that all data collection instrumentation, such as surveys, physiologic measures (blood pressure or temperature), or interview guides, must be identified and described.

    Sources:
    Mouton, J. 2001. How to succeed in your master's & doctoral studies: a South African guide and resource book. Pretoria: Van Schaik.

    Indiana State University Cunningham Memorial Library. Finding Research Instruments, Surveys, and Tests Libguide [Electronic]. Available at: http://libguides.indstate.edu/content.php?pid=89389&sid=665286. Accessed 27 July 2013

    Description

    Loading  Loading...

    Tip