Data collection refers to gathering data through interviews, questionnaires, surveys, experiments and focus group discussions. However, researchers need to use systematic data gathering techniques when the data size is large. Systematic data gathering techniques are structured and organised ways of collecting data. It allows the researchers to collect large amounts of data through a proper methodology.
WHAT IS SYSTEMATIC DATA GATHERING?
Systematic data gathering refers to the methodical and organised process of gathering data. Researchers define parameters and structures and then collect data according to those parameters. Field researchers and ethnographic studies require systematic data gathering techniques. It is because field research and ethnographic studies entail large data sets. Therefore, systematic data gathering techniques are necessary for field and ethnographic research. Moreover, systematic data collection is a structured approach and helps the researchers collect data conveniently. If you feel difficulty in gathering systematic data, you can hire research paper writing services.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT SYSTEMATIC DATA GATHERING TECHNIQUES?
Systematic data gathering techniques entail the following steps:
1. Define the scope of your research
The first step in systematic data collection is to define the aims and objectives of your research. You will have to determine the following things:
- What is it that you want to achieve from your research?
- Research problem
- What is the particular issue you want to address?
- What is the significance of the issue you want to address?
- Write down clear research questions.
2. Define the Research Design
The next step in systematic data collection is selecting and defining the research design. Research design is important because it helps you collect data structured. You will have to choose a research design according to your research questions. If you are doing qualitative research, you will need qualitative data, and if you are doing quantitative research, you will need quantitative data. You can also choose a mixed methods research design for addressing your research questions.
Quantitative data pertains to numerical data such as statistics and numbers, which seek to statistically measure people’s opinions and ideas. Researchers use surveys and opinion polls for collecting quantitative data.
Qualitative data refers to non-numerical data, which is mostly expressed in words. Researchers formulate open-ended questions to collect qualitative data. The gathered data is analysed using interpretive techniques and thematic analysis.
Defining the aims and objectives of your research is essential since it determines the research design. The research design determines what kind of data you need to collect for your research. You should keep the following things in mind:
You will have to collect quantitative data if your research aims to test a hypothesis. Moreover, researchers intending to gain deep insights by doing statistical analysis can also use quantitative data collection techniques for gathering data.
Researchers aiming to explore an issue or idea and comprehend people’s thoughts and experiences in depth use qualitative data collection techniques for gathering data.
3. HOW WILL YOU COLLECT DATA?
The next step in systematic data collection is to decide what methods you will use to collect data. Your choice of data collection methods depends upon your research design. Here are some of the following data collection methods you can use for systematic data gathering:
Researchers use experimental methods for data collection when the research involves testing a hypothesis. Researchers seek to identify causal relationships between the variables. The data is gathered by making changes in the values of the variables. Researchers measure the impact of variations on different variables.
Researchers use surveys for both quantitative and qualitative research. Surveys are an effective way of measuring the responses of people. Researchers formulate open-ended and close-ended questions to collect the thoughts and opinions of people. You can create a survey online using Google forms and distribute it via email or social media.
Interview/Focus Group Discussions
Researchers can also use interviews and focus group discussions for systematic data gathering. You will be able to gain deep insights into a research problem or an issue through interviews and focus group discussions. The technique encompasses formulating semi-structured and unstructured questions and seeking answers from the respondents in an ordered or random manner.
Direct and Indirect Observations
Direct and indirect observations pertain to the observation of people in their natural settings. Researchers seek to collect information about people’s behaviour, thoughts, and opinions in their natural environments.
Ethnographical surveys also mean anthropological research. Researchers trying to understand a certain population in more depth spend some days with the community. They participate in the rituals and try to comprehend the lived experiences of people. It is a popular data collection technique in field research.
Researchers are trying to understand the complexity of historical events and conditions review and analysing archival documents. Manuscripts and historical records help the researchers gather information on historical conditions and practices.
Secondary Data Collection
Secondary data collection techniques refer to those methods where researchers cannot access the primary information. They rely on secondary literature such as books, journals, reports and governmental surveys to gather information.
Step 3: Planning the Data Collection Process
Once you determine the research design and choose the data collection method, you will have to plan how will you collect the data. It requires deciding about the following things:
- What steps will you take to implement your data collection methods?
- Steps do you take to collect reliable and accurate data?
- What will be the format of your questions? For instance, open-ended, close-ended, semi-structured or unstructured.
- What will be the design of your experiment?
- How will you deal with discrepancies?
- How will you manage the data?
- Where will you store the data?
- What security measures you will take to protect the data?
- How will you transcribe the data?
Systematic data gathering techniques ensure smooth data collection and reliable and accurate results. The credibility of your data strengthens your findings and establishes the credibility of your research. You can follow the guidelines mentioned above for systematically gathering data.