Primary methods of data collection
There are different types of primary data and they are used according to the type of study. Some of the most prominently used methods of primary data collection include observation, interview, questionnaire and experiments. There are many other methods but they are less recognized compared to the above mentioned methods.
is the most commonly used method of data collection in the humanities and social sciences. To some extent this method is also used in natural sciences. In natural sciences observation is conducted in natural settings while in the social sciences an artificial situation can also be created where the observer can observe the participants. Observation can be conducted without the knowledge and awareness of the participant’s even, if the participants are aware or not aware of the observation the observer should understand the ethics of the privacy of the participants. In disguise observations the observer has the best opportunity to observe the participants, the observer get true and unbiased results.
In observation chances of personal biases are high as the observer observes the situation in his/her own way. The observer should observe the situation without any biases or personal interests. He/ she should become as natural as possible and records the observer’s responses accurately. In natural sciences observation can be conducted along with the other methods that the researcher is using. Observation alone cannot suffice in natural sciences.
are another important method of primary data collection. Interviews are expensive as compared to other methods of data collection. In the interview the interviewer collects information from each respondent independently. Due to this reason it becomes costly as well as time consuming. Interview as a research tool can only be used if the researcher has plenty of time and resources, otherwise it will be wastage of time and money to start interviewing. Interviews are more reliable as compared to observation. In the interview the interviewer not only asks several questions from the interviewee but he/she observes the respondent too. This facilitates in depth knowledge of the situation, phenomena or individual. The most important limitation of interview is the time that is required to conduct it properly. To obtain reliable results interview should be conducted by a single interviewer rather than having many. Sometimes the interviewees live in distant areas, reaching each respondent becomes difficult.
The interview is basically conducted in social science studies. In the interview the interviewer can make an inventory of questions before starting the interview, in another case the interviewer asks questions spontaneously. Spontaneous questions are better if the purpose of the interview is to find out in depth knowledge. The interviewer may ask spontaneous questions when he has little knowledge of the subject areas. The interviewer records the responses during the interview or at the end of the interview. To conduct an interview the interviewer should have command of social skills and he should develop a rapport with the audience in order to get genuine responses.
The questionnaire is one of the most commonly used methods of data collection in research. Questionnaires are formulated to get to the point information on any subject area. The questionnaire is an inexpensive method of data collection as compared to other methods of primary research. Questionnaires can be submitted by the vast audience at a time and the responses can be obtained easily. The only drawback of questionnaire is the low feedback as several people do not return questionnaires on time. Several respondents do not show true responses in questionnaires. In the interview the interviewer can observe the gestures of the respondents but in questionnaires the respondents do not know whether the answers are genuinely true or not.
To formulate a questionnaire the researcher should formulate questions that do not contain double meaning. Questions should have to be written in easy language that anyone can understand. Questions should have to be simple and not very technical. The researcher should follow the ethics of writing and the language of the questions should not be humiliating.
Primary methods of data collection