Data collection is the process by which researchers capture the information they require, the purpose of which is to carry out a study.
Data collection is a necessary phase prior to conducting a statistical study. This is because these data are required for the processing of the information and its subsequent interpretation.
It should also be noted that the data collected can be qualitative or quantitative.In the first case, we refer to characteristics such as race, gender, profession, opinion on a specific topic, among others. In contrast, quantitative data are numerical data. That is, those in which it is possible to measure them, as in the case of height, weight, income level, among others.
Data collection can resort to different sources, such as bibliographic sources (particularly if the information is qualitative) or freely available databases. For example, a journalist could access information on the distribution of the public budget on his government's transparency portal.
Data collection techniques
The most important data collection techniques are as follows:
It consists of asking a series of questions to the individuals who are part of the study. These can be open and / or closed questions.
In the first case, what is sought is for the interviewee to elaborate on a specific topic, for example, how he felt during his first week in his new place of work.
On the other hand, closed questions are those where a limited number of alternative answers are given, for example, when a customer service asks its users if their level of satisfaction was very low, low, medium, high or very high.
An important point to take into account is that the interview can have different modalities, either in person, online or by phone.
Other techniques for collecting data
In addition to the aforementioned, these are other techniques, which could help us to extract more data:
- Observation: The researcher assumes the work of spectator on the subject of study. This, in order to collect its characteristics. Imagine, for example, the case of a person who is doing a study on a species of bird. Then, he spends several hours a day observing the way in which animals of this species interact, as well as their relationship with the environment in which they live.
- Surveys: They are a series of questions that are made to a group of individuals. Unlike interviews, they do not require extensive interaction between the interviewer and the interviewee. The survey can even be done via email or through a computer system. Like the interview, you can have both open and closed questions.
- Focus Group: It consists of a group session where information is collected on a certain topic, for example, a new product that a company intends to launch. It is a technique widely used in market research.
Before selecting the data collection method, consider what the advantages and disadvantages of each are. For example, a telephone interview could give the interviewee more freedom to express their opinions, since they are not face-to-face with the interviewer. However, there is the challenge of preparing short and direct questions so that the interviewee does not abandon the process.