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Data Collection Methods

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Data Collection in Research

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Data collection is a process of collecting quantitative or qualitative data, relevant to the research topic. The collected data undergoes an organizational process, It helps refine and then lead to conclusions or solutions for the research topic. 

Organizations collect data to predict, or speculate information about the future, and make decisions based on that data. The essential significance of information assortment in any business is that it assists with deciding numerous significant things about the organization and its functioning, thus making data collection important in each field.

Here, we will look at the data collection methods in Research.


Data Collection Methods in Research

There are two types of collecting data in research namely:

  • Primary Data Collection Method

  • Secondary Data Collection Method

Let's discuss each of them in detail

Primary Data Collection Methods

Raw data collection methods are also called primary data collection methods. It is data that is acquired legitimately from the direct source through tests, interviews, recordings, surveys, and observations. The five traditional methods of collecting primary data are:

  • Direct personal Interviews

  • Indirect Personal Interviews

  • Data collection through Questionnaire

  • Data collection through Enumerators

  • Data collection through Local Sources

Primary data collection methods are further classified into two types namely:

  • Quantitative Data Collection Methods

  • Qualitative Data Collection Methods

Quantitative Data Collection Methods

The quantitative data collection method defines the data value in the form of numbers or counts, where each data-set has a specific numerical value linked with it. The information collected in the Quantitative data collection method is quantifiable and can be used for mathematical calculations and statistical analysis. Quantitative data collection methods are used to answer questions such as “How many?”, “How often?”, “How much?”. This data can be verified and can also be easily evaluated using different mathematical techniques. For example “How much did those vegetables cost?” is a question that will obtain quantitative data.


Qualitative Data Collection Methods

In contrast to quantitative data collection methods, which deal with numbers and figures, qualitative data is descriptive in nature rather than numerical. Qualitative data cannot be easily measured as quantitative data and can be collected through observation or open-ended survey or interview questions. In qualitative research, we generally get answers to questions such as “why?” and “how?”


Qualitative data is also known as categorical data as this data can be grouped according to categories. For example, consider a student reading a paragraph from an English book in class. An English teacher who is listening to the student's reading provides feedback on how the child read that paragraph. If the teacher gives feedback based on fluency, tone, usage of words, clarity in pronunciation regardless of giving a grade, then this is considered as a qualitative data example.  


Here are the methods to collect qualitative data :

1. Surveys 

Surveys are the most common type of collecting data. It aims to develop an informed hypothesis or conclusion. This method is beneficial when used for obtaining information by asking open-ended questions which makes the individual provide their point of view or opinion over a certain topic or situation. Surveys can be divided into two types namely: paper surveys and online surveys.

  • Paper Survey - Paper surveys are in the form of questionnaires. The paper survey includes open-ended questions and short questions along with a detailed answer by respondents. It is used to gather information about a certain issue from a large sample size.

  • Online Surveys - The online surveys are carried out in the form of a web survey developed using software or uploaded online on the website. Google survey form is the frequently used method used to collect data through online surveys. Additionally, in contrast to  a paper survey, an online survey is most commonly used as this type of survey can be conducted by the researchers  by individuals anywhere anytime

2. Observation 

It is another frequently used method for collecting qualitative data. In this method, the researcher observes the behaviour of the person and records the events either in the form of notes, audio, or video. IIt helps researchers to know individual behaviour of how they interact, communicate with each other. The researcher in this method is completely immersed in the situation to derive a logical conclusion. The observation method is further divided into two types namely covert and overt, and Interviews. Let's discuss each of them.

  • Covert and Overt Method - In a covert method, the observer or researcher keeps his purpose secret without letting anybody know that they are conducting the observation. On the other hand, an overt method is a method where everyone knows that the researcher is observing them. This includes attending a birthday party or wedding ceremony, wedding and using a video recorder or camera to record and capture what is happening around the party.

  • Interview - This is one of the most renowned and confidential methods of qualitative data collection. It includes direct and face-to-face communication between two people. In this method, an interview questionnaire is designed by the researcher to gain information about the individual’s knowledge or perception surrounding a certain topic, issue, or situation.

  • Target Group Discussion - Here, the interviewer may target a group of 8-10 people, the size of the sample is based on the requirement given by the researcher, and it may vary. Furthermore, each participant is given an equal opportunity  to provide their feedback on how they considered a certain situation, with an opportunity to agree and disagree with each other’s opinion

Secondary Data Collection Methods 

The secondary data collection method is defined as the data gathered by others for a purpose other than the researcher’s ongoing project and has already encountered statistical analysis. The secondary data can be easily gathered from other sources and as such, there are no specific collection methods. The secondary data collection method can be both quantitative and qualitative. The qualitative data can be obtained through newspapers, diaries, interviews, transcripts, etc, whereas the quantitative data can be obtained through a survey, financial statements, and statistics.

The researcher can in secondary data obtain data from both the internal and external sources of the organization. The internal sources of collecting secondary data are:

  • Sales Report

  • Organization financial records

  • Customers details, like contacts detail, name, and age of the customer.

  • Report and feedback from a distributor, dealer, retailer, etc. 

  • Management Information System

The external sources of collecting secondary data are:

  • Business Journals

  • Socal Books

  • Business Magazines

  • Libraries

  • Internet, where comprehensive formation about different areas is readily available.

  • Information from other government departments such as tax record social security, etc. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What are the Different Types of Research Data?

Ans. The different types of research data are:

  • Observational Data

  • Experimental Data

  • Simulation Data

  • Compiled Data

Q2. What are the Two Sources of Data Collection in Research Methodology?

Ans. The two different types of sources of data collection in research methodology are:


Internal Source 

When data is collected from the reports and records of an organization, then it is considered as an internal source of data.


External Source 

When the data is collected from outside the organization, then it is considered as an external source of data.

Q3. How Do Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collection Methods Differ?

Ans. The quantitative collection method in research is communicated in numbers and graphs. This type of data is used to test or confirm theories and assumptions. Generally, researchers use this method to establish generalizable facts about a topic. Some of the quantitative methods include surveys with closed-ended questions, observations recorded as numbers, and experiments.


Qualitative collection methods in research are communicated in words. This method is used to understand concepts, experiences or thoughts. This type of collecting data enables you to gather in-depth information on topics that are not well understood. Some of the qualitative methods include interviews with open-ended questions, observations communicated in words, and literature reviews that explore concepts and theory.