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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Tags : Research Methodology - Data Collection & Sources Of Data
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