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Research Methodology - Data Collection & Sources Of Data

Introduction of Data Collection & Sources Of Data

   Posted On :  20.05.2018 10:59 pm

It is important for a researcher to know the sources of data which he requires for different purposes.

It is important for a researcher to know the sources of data which he requires for different purposes. Data are nothing but the information. There are two sources of information or data they are - Primary and Secondary data. The data are name after the source. Primary data refers to the data collected for the first time, whereas secondary data refers to the data that have already been collected and used earlier by somebody or some agency. For example, the statistics collected by the Government of India relating to the population is primary data for the Government of India since it has been collected for the first time. Later when the same data are used by a researcher for his study of a particular problem, then the same data become the secondary data for the researcher. Both the sources of information have their merits and demerits. The selection of a particular source depends upon the (a) purpose and scope of enquiry, availability of time, (c) availability of finance, (d) accuracy required, statistical tools to be used, (f) sources of information (data), and (g) method of data collection.

Purpose And Scope Of Enquiry:

The purpose and scope of data collection or survey should be clearly set out at the very beginning. It requires the clear statement of the problem indicating the type of information which is needed and the use for which it is needed. If for example, the researcher is interested in knowing the nature of price change over a period of time, it would be necessary to collect data of commodity prices. It must be decided whether it would be helpful to study wholesale or retail prices and the possible uses to which such information could be put. The objective of an enquiry may be either to collect specific information relating to a problem or adequate data to test a hypothesis. Failure to set out clearly the purpose of enquiry is bound to lead to confusion and waste of resources.
After the purpose of enquiry has been clearly defined, the next step is to decide about the scope of the enquiry. Scope of the enquiry means the coverage with regard to the type of information, the subject-matter and geographical area. For instance, an enquiry may relate to India as a whole or a state or an industrial town wherein a particular problem related to a particular industry can be studied.

Availability Of Time:

The investigation should be carried out within a reasonable period of time, failing which the information collected may become outdated, and would have no meaning at all. For instance, if a producer wants to know the expected demand for a product newly launched by him and the result of the enquiry that the demand would be meager takes two years to reach him, then the whole purpose of enquiry would become useless because by that time he would have already incurred a huge loss. Thus, in this respect the information is quickly required and hence the researcher has to choose the type of enquiry accordingly.

Availability Of Resources:

The investigation will greatly depend on the resources available like number of skilled personnel, the financial position etc. If the number of skilled personnel who will carry out the enquiry is quite sufficient and the availability of funds is not a problem, then enquiry can be conducted over a big area covering a good number of samples, otherwise a small sample size will do.

The Degree Of Accuracy Desired:

Deciding the degree of accuracy required is a must for the investigator, because absolute accuracy in statistical work is seldom achieved. This is so because (i) statistics are based on estimates, (ii) tools of measurement are not always perfect and (iii) there may be unintentional bias on the part of the investigator, enumerator or informant. Therefore, a desire of 100% accuracy is bound to remain unfulfilled. Degree of accuracy desired primarily depends upon the object of enquiry. For example, when we buy gold, even a difference of 1/10th gram in its weight is significant, whereas the same will not be the case when we buy rice or wheat. However, the researcher must aim at attaining a higher degree of accuracy, otherwise the whole purpose of research would become meaningless.

Statistical Tools To Be Used:

A well defined and identifiable object or a group of objects with which the measurements or counts in any statistical investigation are associated is called a statistical unit. For example, in socio-economic survey the unit may be an individual, a family, a household or a block of locality. A very important step before the collection of data begins is to define clearly the statistical units on which the data are to be collected. In number of situations the units are conventionally fixed like the physical units of measurement, such as meters, kilometers, quintals, hours, days, weeks etc., which are well defined and do not need any elaboration or explanation.
However, in many statistical investigations, particularly relating to socioeconomic studies, arbitrary units are used which must be clearly defined. This is a must because in the absence of a clear cut and precise definition of the statistical units, serious errors in the data collection may be committed in the sense that we may collect irrelevant data on the items, which should have, in fact, been excluded and omit data on certain items which should have been included. This will ultimately lead to fallacious conclusions.

Sources Of Information (Data):

After deciding about the unit, a researcher has to decide about the source from which the information can be obtained or collected. For any statistical inquiry, the investigator may collect the data first hand or he may use the data from other published sources, such as publications of the government/semi-government organizations or journals and magazines etc.

Method Of Data Collection:


There is no problem if secondary data are used for research. However, if primary data are to be collected, a decision has to be taken whether (i) census method or (ii) sampling technique is to be used for data collection. In census method, we go for total enumeration i.e., all the units of a universe have to be investigated. But in sampling technique, we inspect or study only a selected representative and adequate fraction of the population and after analyzing the results of the sample data we draw conclusions about the characteristics of the population. Selection of a particular technique becomes difficult because where population or census method is more scientific and 100% accuracy can be attained through this method, choosing this becomes difficult because it is time taking, it requires more labor and it is very expensive. Therefore, for a single researcher or for a small institution it proves to be unsuitable. On the other hand, sample method is less time taking, less laborious and less expensive but a 100% accuracy cannot be attained through this method because of sampling and non-sampling errors attached to this method. Hence, a researcher has to be very cautious and careful while choosing a particular method.

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