Data primarily refers to the presentation of information in the form of facts, symbols, objects, and events. Data collection is an important step for making better and informed decisions based on the inferences drawn from the data collected. Data is an important asset for any organization, provided it has been processed correctly and analyzed to get the appropriate inferences and results. This is why organizations focus on the collection of data at regular intervals, from various sources. Even while pursuing courses like the data science course, business analytics course, etc., the collection of data plays a pivotal role.
The process of data collection can be broadly categorized into primary data collection and secondary data collection. So, let’s learn in detail about these two important data collection methods in the upcoming sections.
Primary Data Collection
Primary data collection is a process, wherein data is collected directly from first hand sources and not from the past. Data collected under this process are highly specific and highly accurate. Furthermore, primary data collection methods can be categorized into quantitative methods and qualitative methods.
Quantitative Data Collection Method
This method majorly involves collecting data using statistical tools for making long-term forecasts. Quantitative data collection method further involves techniques like:
Time Series Analysis: Time series means variable values present in a sequential order at regular time intervals, commonly known as trend. With the help of patterns, organizations can forecast the demand for its products and services for the time projected.
Smoothing Techniques: Smoothing techniques are used when time series lack significant trends, and this method allows identification of patterns and demand levels for estimating future demands. The most commonly used methods used in smoothing techniques are simple moving average method and the weighted moving average method.
Barometric Method: This method is used to forecast trends in future based on the present developments. Whenever past trends are taken into consideration for predicting future events, they function as leading indicators.
Qualitative Data Collection Method
This data collection method is used when data from the past is unavailable or there’s a requirement of numbers or mathematical calculations. Qualitative research is closely related to abstract things like sounds, words, emotions, colours, etc, that are non-quantifiable. Using quantitative methods can be time consuming and laborious in contrast to the quantitative method. Hence it’s recommended to use both qualitative and quantitative methods together for the best results.
Qualitative methods involve techniques like using Qualitative Data Software such as ATLAS.ti to analyze qualitative research.
Surveys: They are used for collecting data from a target population and gain information about their choices, opinions, preferences, and feedback about products and services used by them. With the help of a survey dashboard, statistics obtained from the survey can be monitored and used for decision making.
Polls: They comprise of single or MCQs. To know about a target audience in a very short span of time, polls are the best way to collect data. Inferences can be easily drawn by comparing the responses collected via polls.
Interviews: In this method, the interviewer collects data by asking questions either face to face or on the telephone. The responses collected during interviews are recorded and later analyzed to derive conclusions.
Questionnaires: They comprise a set of questions that can be either open-ended or closed-ended. The respondents typically answer the questions based upon their prior experiences. The answers to the questions are used for drawing inferences and making decisions accordingly.
Secondary Data Collection
Secondary data is primarily the second-hand data collected by individuals other than the researchers. It’s simply a collection of already available data that can be easily understood and requires no specific data collection technique. Some of the common sources from where secondary data is collected involve company documents, annual reports, financial statements, or reports. Furthermore, secondary data can be collected from other sources like journals, books, magazines and the internet. This data collection method is much easier and involves less hassle as the data is readily available.
While there are so many data collection methods available, you need to choose the one that best suits your requirements and convenience.