Research is important for developments and innovations. To conduct research, data must be taken, interpolated, and analysed to give sound information about a certain issue under research. There are different methods of data collection (Pratt & Loizos, 2005). This paper is divided into two parts; part one discusses five data collection methods and parts two gives my personal research experience.
Data collection methods are divided into primary and secondary collection methods. Under primary, we have:
Use of interviews
It is a method of data collection that involves oral questioning of a certain population whether individuals or in groups. Response from the interviewee regarding a certain question are recorded either at the time of interview or are tape recorded for later recording and analysis. Questions may be fixed or flexible depending on the target group (Kothari, 2008).
Use of questionnaires
Questionnaires are structured questions given to respondents who are expected to answer them in written form and then give them back to data collector. The questionnaires can be sent through post, email or faxed to a respondent, they can also be hand derived.
Observation is a data collection method where the researcher uses his eyes and participates in certain activities as he collects data. Observation may be open where the researcher takes data from the occurrence of certain activities or may be closed where the observer takes data from a limited number of people (Axinn & Lisa, 2006).
Focus groups are groups composed of a population that has the required information. They are collected together and the team leader who is usually the researcher asks relevant questions that lead to data collection in his area of interest. The team leader gives members of a group the chance to discus and gives their views regarding a certain phenomenon.
Other than primary data collection method, there is secondary data collection method that involves taking data from literature reviews of related material. The researcher does not go to the field to collect data but reviews data that already exists may be in books, documentaries, internet and media (Patton, 2002).
I have had an experience in focus group data collection method, which I used when I was in my senior high school to collect data.
In my last year at senior high, there was an increased use of drugs in my school. The management decided to collect data on the reasons behind the increase in drug abuse. They decided that they would use final year prefects to collect data. I was one of them.
The research method that was used is focus groups. Each prefect was supposed to come up with a combination of ten students, and then engage them in a dialogue that gave them a chance to discuss the issues that the school was undergoing; responses and main points were recorded. After the process of data collection was over, the data was interpolated and analysed. It was a great success since the school was able to get information that assisted in making sound decisions to reduce drug abuse in the school.
What I like most about the project is how different people have different views, others that are very relevant but can be ignored if someone is working alone.
After data has been collected, it needs to be examined for quality and reliability. Consistency of data is important for data analysis thus it is important to examine and test the data collected. Extremes data are disregarded to ensure that data used for analysis can be generalized when making final inferences.
Axinn,G., & Lisa, D.(2006). Mixed method data collection strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kothari, R. (2008).Research Methodology : Methods And Techniques. New Delhi: New Age International.
Patton, Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. London: Sage Publications
Pratt, B., & Loizos, P.(2005). Choosing research methods: data collection for development workers. London: Oxfam.