Civil Services

Academy
Research Methodology

Data Collection

1

Data
Basic/major sources of data collection are the
following:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Documents
Questionnaires
Interviews
Sampling
NET
Observation
(Useful source of data collection for
anthropological research, may not be very
relevant and useful here)

2

Data
1. Documents
• Documents are primarily of two types - Primary and
Secondary
• Primary sources are preferred sources in research –
they are original, ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’
kind of material - anything recorded by the principal
actors involved in the events being analyzed
Contd…

3

Data
Examples:

Personal Records – Memoirs, Diaries, Letters,
Autobiographical/Eye-witness accounts

• Official (Public) Record – Government documents/
studies/reports/inquiries/notifications/minutes, etc

4

Data
• Secondary Sources

– material produced

after

recalling the event/s
• The material tends to be descriptions, analyses,
interpretations or statements of those who were not
present during the event/s
• Mostly books, monographs, journals, magazines,
and newspapers

5

Data
• Documents also include: photographs,
maps,
casette

pictures,

audio

recordings,

and

tape

video

recorded

interviews, and computerized records

6

Data
Major reasons for using Secondary Sources:
1.

Collecting

primary

data

is

difficult,

time-

consuming and expensive
2.

Not enough primary data

3.

Makes sense to use it because this is the data you
want and is also readily available

4.

May shed light or complement the data you already
have from the primary sources
Contd…

7

Data
5. Because it may confirm, modify, challenge
or contradict your argument/s
6. Because it allows you to focus your
attention on analysis and interpretation
7. Because you cannot conduct a research
study in isolation from what has already
been done
8

Data
How to use Documents?
1.

Never use documentary sources uncritically

2.

Newspaper reports are at times, if not mostly,
inaccurate or biased. Don’t rely on one paper’s
views. Check against other newspapers to get the
balance

3.

Finally, and most importantly, look at your own
prejudices. Are your searching for evidence to
support your own viewpoint and dismissing out of
hand information that seems to disagree with you?
9

Data
2.

Questionnaires (Mailed and Schedule)

A good questionnaire grows out of a good hypothesis

MORE care required for the selection and designing of
questions for mailed questionnaires

Selection of the respondents should be done very
carefully

10

Data
(1) Designing the questionnaire:
(a) Preparatory work
(b) Questionnaire format
(c) Questionnaire content
(d) Pre-testing
(e) Training the interviewers
(f) Coding the data
(g) Analysis of the data
11

Data
(2)

Kinds of Questions:
1.

Open or Closed questions

Advantages of Open-ended questions:
i)

Greater freedom to express opinion

ii)

Respondents express their own opinions and will not be
influenced by a ready-made answer just because it is offered

iii)

Bias reduced because response is not limited to certain
answers

Disadvantages:
1.

Time-consuming – to analyze

2.

Field workers need training as they are liable to misunderstand
the answers given by the respondents
12

Data
Closed Questions (yes/no answers type)
Advantages:
1.

Quick to administer

2.

Easier to code and analyze

Disadvantages:
1.

Misleading questions can be drawn because of the
limited range of options

2.

Respondents unable to express personal opinions
and may choose the nearest answer to what they
really think
13

Data
What to avoid in designing questions?
1. Problem question – a question that may not be
clear and unambiguous when read by some one
2. Double – barrelled question
A good question must seek answers to one
question, not two. (Should the government
spend more on education and less on the
infrastructure?)
Contd…
14

Data
3. Leading question
Leading questions are often emotive (would you
say that animal welfare charities are a good
thing?)
Make sure that your questions don’t begin with
statements such as:
‘Do you agree that…
‘Do you think that…
‘Would you say that…,
and so on

Contd…

15

Data
4. Hypothetical questions
Try to avoid asking questions where the
respondents have to imagine themselves in a
particular situation
Avoid starting your questions with,
‘if….

5. Memory questions
Questions that recall events, dates, or information
are likely to lead to inaccurate replies, which in
turn, will make your research meaningless
Contd…

16

Data
6. Sensitive questions
Asking a sensitive question is best left towards the
end of your questionnaire ( especially Schedule)

7. Long questions
It is better to reduce the length of the long
question or make it two questions if it is necessary
to obtain that information

8. Questions requiring prior knowledge:
If the respondents have to look up information in
order to answer your question, they may abandon
it altogether
17

Data
Layout of the Questionnaire
If it is badly designed, the interviewers and
respondents can lose their way and miss important
questions
Layout is as important as the wording of the
questions themselves:

should be clearly printed

should be presented logically

should have plenty of space for replies

all instructions should
understand and follow

be

easy

to
18

Data
Coding the Questionnaires
Code box on the right side of the questionnaire –
convenient
Coding before printing the questionnaire – simple
and most obvious questions at the beginning, more
complicated as the questionnaire proceeds

19

Data
How to distribute the Questionnaire?
• Covering letter (unless a Schedule – face to
face)
• Ensure confidentiality
• Return Date – essential to give a date by which
the questionnaire should be returned (Mailed )
• Stamped self – addressed envelope
• Reminders – with intervals.
• Letter of thanks (finally)
20