Data collection: Definition, types and steps


Data Analysis Plan2
Table of Contents

What is data collection?

Data collection is defined as a method of collecting data, organizing it and analyzing it to turn it into insights that will be useful for business research. Research is done to test certain hypothesis that is formulated by the researchers that will prove some facts.

Data collection is usually the first step of any research no matter which field the research is being conducted. The primary motive of data collection is providing rich and valuable data that goes into statistical analysis and research which are data-driven in nature.

Exploratory Research Guide

Conducting exploratory research seems tricky but an effective guide can help.

What are data collection methods?

Let us take a look at some methods through which you can collect relevant data for your research study.

  • In-person interviews 

In this method, there is an interviewer who chooses a participant to collect data from. In person data collection gives you the highly trusted data with high credibility.

Drawback of this method is that it is very time consuming and costly. You have to appoint an interviewer and spend time to get the information out of the participants, where the variable of their interest keeps changing. 

  • Mail surveys 

Mail surveys work by sending out the survey forms to participants. The advantage of this method is that the survey will reach all its participants as decided.

But if we look at the cons, they include cost inefficiency, time lag and data errors as there is no one to monitor the data that is being filled. 

  • Telephonic survey

This survey is conducted over a phone call with the respondent. It is way cheaper than the previous data collection methods and gives the same amount of reliability on the data.

Apart from that it is easy to cover larger participant counts with it.

Cons are that you will need to hire an agency or a larger staff just to do this job. 

  • Online surveys

These are the surveys that go out to the participants through online platforms like emails, social media platforms, etc. they let you self-administer the data coming in and are less proven to data errors. Nevertheless, it is even more cheaper.

The only drawback with this is with the people who cannot access the internet. It would be difficult to cover them under your research.

  • Multi channel surveys

So, with this method, you can distribute the surveys across the respondents through any mode that they find appropriate for themselves. It can be on paper, phone or online. The data collection systems can be shared between all those modes, where the data is logged into the system that comes from paper and telephonic surveys.

The same system can be used to lock the data flooding in through online surveys.

See Voxco survey software in action with a Free demo.

Data collection example

Lets say a laptop company is thinking of launching a new product. It will conduct a research in the market that will tell them the new trends, customers and their expectations, newly launched products from other brands, etc. They make use of multi-channel surveys. Looking at customer interaction history, they choose to survey people based on the channels that they usually prefer. 

The survey questions should be framed in a way that it includes all the information that the company wants to gather for its new product. What are the recent prices? What are customers expecting from laptops these days? Which companies have launched similar products? Which of them was a different one that made higher sales? 

Once the people have filled your surveys, the data starts flooding in from all the sides. The company makes use of automated tools to capture and analyze the data. The results of data analysis comes out with all the ideas and insights on current market trends and how the nr=ew product can be made the best.

Data collection in 5 steps

Steps 1: State the information you want to collect

The first thing you’re going to do even before starting to frame the questions, is actually identifying what information you really want. If you are a business you might want to get to know the newest market trends, customers’ feedback on the latest launched product or why your product isn’t doing so great. 

Ultimately, the data you collect should give you all the answers to the questions you had when you thought of driving a survey. 

Step 2: Set a time period for collecting data

Next, you can start on deciding how much time you want to give the data to flood in. a survey process cannot go forever, and it cannot be done in a day. 

Depending on how many people you are distributing your surveys to, and how many channels you are using to do so also has to say a lot about how much time you should give the survey. Now, this time period calculation needs to be done even before the surveys are sent out. It helps you set a deadline for your research and be on time for all the future processes.

Step 3: Define data collection method

In this step, looking at the number of respondents you are aiming to achieve, you can decide on which data collection method you want to use for your survey. It can be anything from the list we discussed before. 

The most commonly used is a multi mode survey. The reason being it covers all sorts of participants, with no age barrier or accessibility barriers either. 

Step 4: Collect the data 

Now you can begin to collect your data. You can make use of automated data collection platforms that collect the data for you from various sources and keep them in one place. 

It is advised to monitor how your data is coming in and make changes in the information or surveys if needed. 

Step 5: Analyze the data an implement

This is the end of your research. You have all the information you need in your hands now, and all you have to do is analyze it. Although, it is not a very easy task, as there are various data science tools in the market, you can take help of any of those for your analysis. 

These data analysis tools jot down the patterns in your data and organize it to make sense. It will also provide you with a graphical representation of what your data is trying to tell you.

Once you have your insights, it is time to implement your findings and form strategies to work in the direction of gathering information about business.

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