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Data in social sciences are based on our senseobservations.

Collection of data is the first step for any statistical
The process of counting or enumeration or
measurement together with the systematic recording of
The terms
is called
the collection of statistical data
Respondents, and
Statistical units.

Preliminaries to data collection:

o Objectives and scope of the enquiry
o Statistical units to be used
o Sources of information (data)
o Method of data collection
o Degree of accuracy aimed at in the final results, and
o Type of enquiry.
Requisites of a statistical unit:
It should be un-ambiguous
It should be specific (e.g; Wages: daily. Weekly or monthly)
It should be stable (No fluctuations from place to place or time to time)
It should be appropriate to the enquiry
It should be uniform.

Sources of data:

Primary or secondary depending upon the purpose and scope of the


Method of data collection:

Problem does not arise if secondary data is used.
For primary data: Census method Vs Sample technique.

Degree of accuracy aimed:

Depends upon the objectives and scope of the enquiry .

(length of cloth and distance between two places)

Type of enquiry:

Official, Semi-official or Un-official

Initial or Repetitive
Confidential or Non-confidential
direct or Indirect
Regular or Ad-hoc
Census or Sample, and
Primary or Secondary

Choice between Primary and Secondary Data:

Nature, objective and scope of the enquiry

The time and finance at the disposal of the agency

The degree of precision aimed at, and
The status of the agency (whether Government, Private
institution or Individual)

Methods of Collecting Primary Data:

Direct Personal Investigation
Indirect Oral Interviews
Information received through local agencies
Mailed questionnaire method, and
Schedules sent through enumerators.
Direct Personal Investigation: Suited only if the enquiry is intensive (local)
rather than extensive
The information obtained by the investigator himself will be more
reliable and accurate.

Removing doubts, if any, and intelligent cross questioning is possible

The responses obtained through personal approach is likely to be more

Proper information may extract considering the sensitivity issues,
prejudices, education level of respondents, etc.

Investigation is restrictive in nature and is suited only for intensive

Indirect Oral Interviews: Information on individuals are obtained from neighbors,

friends or relatives, etc.


Enumerator can exercise his intelligence, skill, tact, etc. to extract

correct information

This method requires less time and is less expensive

Expert views and suggestions can be obtained.

The success depends only on the enumerator

Information received through local agencies: The investigator appoints

Accuracy of data depend to the biases, nature and quality of the

local agents called as correspondents in different parts of field of enquiry. (e.g;


governments, media people).

This method is cheap and economical for extensive investigations

Part-time correspondents or agencies can be employed.

Information can be obtained expeditiously where only rough

estimates are required

Different correspondents fashion and style may affect the results

Mailed questionnaire method: A prepared questionnaire is mailed to the

respondents with a request for quick response within the specified time. Drafting and
framing the questionnaire is more important.
This method is by far most economical in terms of time, money and
manpower provided the respondents supply the information in time
It is used for extensive enquiries covering a very wide area
Errors due to the personal biases of the investigators are completely
eliminated as the information supplied are direct.
The information collected are original and much more authentic.

This method can be effectively used only if the audience is educated
and can understand the questions well and reply them in their own
The success depends on the interest shown by the respondents and
hence non-response will be more
We cannot verify the accuracy and reliability of the information
Informants may be reluctant to give written information in their own

Schedules sent through enumerators: It is the device of obtaining

answers to the questions in a form which is filled by the interviewers or
enumerators in a face to face situation with the respondents.
The most widely used method where very high degree of
responses are required
This method is free from certain shortcomings inherent in other
Enumerators go to the respondents personally
Ask the questions directly and can record the replies
This method is generally used by big business houses and large
public enterprises and research institutions
enumerator can explain everything about the enquiry to the
Population census all over the world is conducted by this



Enumerators can also dispel the doubts, if any

This is useful in extensive enquiries and generally yields better
results by the trained enumerators
Non response is minimum because of the personal approaches of

Expensive method and can be used only by financially sound
It is a time consuming method
Success of this method is depending on the intelligence,
insight, patience, diplomacy and courage of the enumerators
and also in drafting the schedule
Drafting or framing the questionnaire:
Individual personalities of enumerators may bring variations in
The size of the questionnaire should be as small as possible
the results
The questions should be clear, brief, unambiguous, courteous in
tone, non-offending and to the point.
The questions should be arranged a natural logical sequence
Questions should be designed in a manner that are readily
comprehensible and are easily answerable
Questions that are sensitive and personal should be avoided as far
as possible.

Leading questions must be avoided. For example: Why do you use a

particular brand of watch, say, Rolex. This should be framed in two questions as
Which watch do you use?
Why do you prefer it? (choice of answers may be given)
Cross checks: Questionnaire should be designed in a way to provide internal
Pre-testing the questionnaire; A pilot study may be conducted on a small sample
to test the questionnaire
A covering letter from the organisers of the enquiry should be enclosed with the
questionnaire for the following purposes:
briefing the objectives and scope of the survey to evoke the interest of the
It should contain the operational definitions of the terms used in
It should take the respondents in confidence by ensuring secrecy of the
information to be received
A self-addressed stamped envelope may be enclosed in case where
mailed questionnaire is used
A copy of the survey report may be promised
Mode of tabulation and analysis like hand operation, computerisation, etc; should
also be kept in mind while framing the questionnaire
Lastly the questionnaire must be made attractive by proper layout and appealing
get up.

Types of Questions:
1. Shut questions: Possible answers are suggested by the framers and
respondents need to tick only. It may be simple alternate questions or
multiple choice questions.

Simple alternate questions: The respondent has choose between two

clear cut alternatives like Yes or No, Write or Wrong, True or False, etc;

Multiple choice questions: The respondents have to choose between

multiple choice of alternatives given in the questionnaire. Refer the
following example:
How do you go to your work place daily?
By bus
By own cycle
By own two wheeler
By own car
By rented taxi
By conveyance given by the employer
On foot
Any other