You are on page 1of 5

Having examined how variables are measured, we will now discuss the various sources of data and the

ways in which data can be gathered for purposes of analysis, testing hypotheses, and answering the research questions SOURCE OF DATA Data can be obtained from primary or secondary data. Primary data refer to information obtained first-hand by the researcher on the variables of interest for the specific purpose of the study. Secondary data refer to information gathered from source that already exist. Primary sources of data Individuals provide information when interviewed, administered questionnaires, or observed. Group depth interviews, or focus groups, are another rich source of primary data Focus group Focus groups consist typically of eight to ten members with a moderator leading the discussions for about two hours on a particular topic, concept, or product. Members are generally chosen on the basis of their expertise in the topic on which information is sought. Focus group discussions on a specific topic at a particular location and at a specified time provide the opportunity for a flexible, free-flowing format for the members. The unstructured and spontaneous responses are expected to reflect the genuine opinions, ideas, and feelings of the members about the topic under discussion. The selection of and role played by the moderator are critical. The moderator introduces the topic, observes, and takes notes and/or tapes the discussions. The moderator never becomes an integral part of the discussions, but merely steers the group persuasively to obtain all the relevant information, and helps the group members to get through any impasse that might occur. It should be noted that though data obtained through these homogeneous group members are the least expensive of the various data collection methods, and also lend themselves for quick analysis, the content analysis of the data so obtained provides only qualitative and not quantitative information. Focus groups are used for (1) exploratory studies, (2) making generalizations based on the information generated by them, and (3) conducting sample surveys. If regional variations in responses are expected, several focus groups could be formed including trained moderators at different locations. This process is easily facilitated through videoconferencing. By zooming in on a particular member the nonverbal cues and gestures of that individual can be captured, as and when desired. This also obviates the need for an observer looking through a one-way mirror.

panel studies are very useful. are another source of primary information for research purposes. as we have just discussed. like focus groups. computer-assisted interviews. Individuals are randomly chosen to serve as panel members for a research study. sent through the mail. in different settings—field or lab—and from different sources. and through extrapolation. it is important to refer to sources that offer current and upto-date information. Whereas focus groups meet for a one-time group session. among other things. Interviews could be unstructured or structured. One example is the wear and tear of journals in a university library. for forecasting sales by constructing models based on past sales figures. Data collection methods include interviews—face-to-face interviews. Panels could be static or dynamic. and conducted either face to face or by telephone or online. or trace measures as they are also called. and interviews through the electronic media. . telephone interviews. Data can be collected in a variety of ways. frequency of use. Hence. DATA COLLECTION METHODS Data collection methods are an integral part of research design. Secondary data can be used. and a variety of other motivational techniques such as projective tests. or electronically administered. The advantage of seeking secondary data sources is savings in time and costs of acquiring information. questionnaires that are either personally administered. In cases where the effects of certain interventions or changes are to be studied over a period of time. and not meeting the specific needs of the particular situation or setting. and are typically used when several aspects of a product are to be studied from time to time. observation of individuals and events with or without videotaping or audio recording. interactive manner. originate from a primary source that does not involve people. However. The Deplhi Technique is a forecasting method that uses a cautiously selected panel of the experts in a systematic.Panels Panels. panels (of members) meet more than once. Interviewing One method of collecting data is to interview respondents to obtain information on the issues of interest. Unobtrusive measures Unobtrusive measures. Secondary sources of data Secondary data are indispensable for most organizational research. or both. which offers a good indication of their popularity. A panel is a source of direct information. secondary data as the sole source of information has the drawback of becoming obsolete.

offering clear guidelines to interviewers. as identified by the client. Researchers need to establish rapport with the respondents and motivate them to give responses relatively free from bias by allaying whatever suspicions. During this process it might become evident that the problem. Structured interviews are those conducted when it is known at the outset what information is needed. pleasant. and nonevaluative. These would then be pursued further during the structured interviews for eliciting more in. and how to close an interview. ask questions in an unbiased way. The main purpose of the unstructured interview is to explore and probe into the several factors in the situation that might be central to the broad problem area. Good planning. In applied research. and supervising their work all help in profitably utilizing the interviewing technique as a viable data collection mechanism.Unstructured and structured interviews Unstructured interviews are so labeled because the interviewer does not enter the interview setting with a planned sequence of questions to be asked of the respondent. A team of trained interviewers then becomes necessary. a tentative theory of the factors contributing to the problem is often conceptualized on the basis of the information obtained from the unstructured and structured interviews. anxieties. how to motivate respondents to answer. The responses should be transcribed immediately and not be trusted to memory and later recall. it is often not feasible for one individual to conduct all the interviews.depth information on them. what to look for in the answers. This can be accomplished by being sincere. how to proceed with the questions. While interviewing. fears. Face-to-face and telephone interviews . Interviewers have to be thoroughly briefed about the research and trained in how to start an interview. offer clarifications when needed. Some tips to follow when interviewing Establishing credibility as able researchers with the client system and the organizational members is important for the success of the research project. Training interviewers When several long interviews are to be conducted. and concerns they may have about the research and its consequences. proper training. is but a symptom of a more serious and deep-rooted problem. Conducting unstructured interviews with many people in the organization could result in the identification of several critical factors in the situation. This will help identify the critical problem as well as solve it. and help respondents to think through difficult issues. the researcher has to ask broad questions initially and then narrow them down to specific areas.

by hanging up the phone. Telephone interviews The main advantage of telephone interviewing. CAI software also prevents interviewers from asking the wrong questions or in the wrong sequence since the questions are automatically flashed to the respondent in an ordered sequence. clarify doubts. is that a number of different people can be reached (if need be. Questionnaires . There are two types of computer-assisted interview programs: CATI (computer-assisted telephone interviewing) and CAPI (computer-assisted personal interviewing). and the likely duration of each interview is. They could also be computer-assisted. is useful inasmuch as responses to surveys can be obtained from people all over the world since the PC is networked into the telephone system. across the country or even internationally) in a relatively short period of time. A main disadvantage of telephone interviewing is that the respondent could unilaterally terminate the interview without warning or explanation. thanks to modern technology. and ensure that the responses are properly understood. for instance. from the researcher„s point of view. Many market surveys. used in research organizations. thereby reducing errors in recording. ten minutes or less. by repeating or rephrasing the questions. Telephone interviews are best suited when information from a large number of respondents spread over a wide geographic area is to be obtained quickly. CAPI involves big investments in hardware and software. The accuracy of data collection is considerably enhanced since the software can be programmed to flag the “offbase” ‖ or “out-of-range”‖ responses. CATI. are conducted through structured telephone interviews. Face-to-face interviews The main advantage of face-to-face or direct interviews is that the researcher can adapt the questions as necessary. respondents can use their own computers to run the program by themselves once they receive the software and enter their responses. CAPI has an advantage in that it can be self-administered.Interviews can be conducted either face to face or over the telephone. say. questions are flashed onto the computer screen and interviewers can enter the answers of the respondents directly into the computer. Computer-assisted interviewing With computer-assisted interviews (CAI). that is. The main disadvantages of face-to-face interviews are the geographical limitations they may impose on the surveys and the vast resources needed if such surveys need to be done nationally or internationally.

Guidelines for questionnaire design Sound questionnaire design principles should focus on three areas. The third pertains to the general appearance of the questionnaire. All three are important issues in questionnaire design because they can minimize bias in research. The type and form of questions asked. Personally administered questionnaires When the survey is confined to a local area. A 30% response rate is considered acceptable. The main advantage of this is that the researcher or a member of the research team can collect all the completed responses within a short period of time. and at their own pace. The first relates to the wording of the questions. Questionnaires are an efficient data collection mechanism when the researcher knows exactly what is required and how to measure the variables of interest. The personal data sought from the respondents. They are mailed to the respondents. How questions are worded and the level of sophistication of the language used. usually within rather closely defined alternatives. and coded after receipt of the responses. 3. a good way to collect data is to personally administer the questionnaires. 4. in their homes.A questionnaire is a preformulated written set of questions to which respondents record their answers. Data collection through mechanical observation 3. scaled. and the organization is willing and able to assemble groups of employees to respond to the questionnaires at the workplace. Other methods of data collection 1. Mail questionnaires The main advantage of mail questionnaires is that a wide geographical area can be covered in the survey. and 5. The appropriateness of the content of the questions. The second refers to planning of issues of how the variables will be categorized. The sequencing of the questions. 2. The principles of wording refer to such factors as: 1. who can complete them at their convenience. Multimethods of data collection . Observational studies 2. However. the return rates of mail questionnaires are typically low.