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TOPIC 6

DATA COLLECTION

TOPIC LEARNING OUTCOME

At the end of this topic, students should be able to:

i. Discover 2 sources of data collection namely primary and secondary data.


(PLO1,K,C3)

ii. Differentiate 6 types of questions and the purposes of those questions in


preparing questionnaire. (PLO1,K,C4)

iii. Design appropriate and relevant questions for the purpose of collecting
information. (PLO1,K,C5)

iv. Organize a data collection activity using designed data collection


instrument. (PLO3,CS,P5)

v. Demonstrate responsibility when working in group in gathering data for the


research. (PLO6,TS,A3)
WHAT IS RESEARCH DATA?

All researchers work with data. However what is defined as data will depend on a
discipline or area of research. A humanities researcher for an instance might
have data in the forms of texts, manuscripts or artifacts collected from libraries or
archives. In a social science research, data may come from survey results,
interviews and statistics. Data in engineering or science researches may refer to
outputs of lab experiments and observations respectively.

Research data can be qualitative or quantitative and comes in print, digital


and physical formats. Sometimes research involves using existing data or may
be collected or created by researchers. In all cases, research data needs to be
cared for so that the results of your research can be validated and built upon

SOURCES OF DATA COLLECTION

Primary sources Secondary sources


- Your own data collection from own
- From publications, government documents,
investigation
brochures, newsletters, annual reports

- Look for recent reports, check on the author’s


qualification and the reputation of the publisher

- Document the sources through footnotes,


endnotes or reference list
COLLECTING PRIMARY DATA

The 4 main ways to collect primary data:

1. Documents
- can be primary or secondary source
- from own company files, business documents such as sales reports, policy
statements, correspondence with customers, suppliers, contracts and log book.

2. Observation
- informal observation by using eyes or ears based on the researcher visiting a
facility or observe operations
- specific observations with a checklist on what to look out for
- useful when studying objects, physical activities, the environment or human
behaviour

- the disadvantage depends on the reliability of the observer as people have the
tendency to see what they want on their own experiences. Therefore, proper
instructions and trustworthy observer is essential.

3. Surveys
- includes single interviews to the experts to distribution of thousands of
questionnaires to outsiders.
- a formal survey can consist of face-to-face interviews, phone calls or printed
questionnaires.
- how many individuals should be contacted to get reliable results?
- what specific questions should be asked?
4. Experiments
- for technical fields to see the differences between two factors/ elements/
variables, eg. Experiments done on animals or two groups of people

Creating Good Interview and Survey Questions

If you are conducting primary research using surveys or interviews, one of the most
important things to focus on is creating good questions.

When creating questions you want to avoid:

1. Biased questions

Biased questions are questions that encourage your participants to respond to the
question in a certain way. They may contain biased terminology or are worded in a
biased way.

Biased question: Don't you agree that campus parking is a problem?


Revised question: Is parking on campus a problem?
2. Questions that assume what they ask

These questions are a type of biased question and lead your participants to agree or
respond in a certain way.

Biased question: There are many people who believe that campus parking is a
problem. Are you one of them?
Revised question: Do you agree or disagree that campus parking is a problem?

3. Double-barreled questions

A double-barreled question is a one that has more than one question embedded within it.
Participants may answer one but not both, or may disagree with part or all of the
question.

Double-barreled question: Do you agree that campus parking is a problem and that
the administration should be working diligently on a
solution?
Revised question: Is campus parking a problem?
(If the participant responds yes): Should the administration
be responsible for solving this problem?
4. Confusing or wordy questions

Make sure your questions are not confusing or wordy. Confusing questions will only lead
to confused participants, which lead to unreliable answers.

Confusing questions: What do you think about parking?


(This is confusing because the question isn't clear about
what it is asking--parking in general? The person's
ability to park the car? Parking on campus?)

Do you believe that the parking situation on campus is


problematic or difficult because of the lack of
spaces and the walking distances or do you believe that
the parking situation on campus is ok? (This question is
both very wordy and leads the participant.)

Revised question: What is your opinion of the parking situation on campus?

5. Questions that do not relate to what you want to learn

Be sure that your questions directly relate to what it is you are studying. A good way to
do this is to ask someone else to read your questions or even test your survey out on a
few people and see if the responses fit what you are looking for.

Unrelated questions: Have you ever encountered problems in the parking


garage on campus? Do you like or dislike the bus
system?
TYPES OF SURVEY QUESTIONS

a. Open-ended question
Eg: How would you describe the condition of the vans provided by UTHM?

b. Either-or
Eg: Do you think the van drivers obey the Safety Regulation while
driving on the road?
Yes / No

c. Multiple choice

Eg: What is best way to educate the van drivers? (Choose only ONE)
a. UTHM should often give a reminder
b. Distribute flyers and brochures to the drivers
c. Never renew the permit if they have safety offends
d. Suspend their services

d. Scale

Eg: Please mark an X on the scale to indicate how you feel regarding
your safety while traveling on the vans provided by UTHM.

1 2 3 4 5

Key: 1 Very safe


2 Safe
3 Moderate
4 Unsafe
5 Very unsafe
e. Checklist

Eg: Which movie/s have you watched in the past 3 months? (Tick √ all that
apply)

i. Shrek 3

ii. The Incredibles

iii. Terminator III

iv. I Know What You Did Last Summer

v. Hamlet

f. Ranking

Eg: Rank these movies according to your preferences; from


1 (most preferred) to 5 (least preferred)

i. Shrek 3

ii. The Incredibles

iii. Terminator III

iv. I Know What You Did Last Summer

v. Hamlet

Guidelines when making survey questions

i. Provide clear instructions; especially on how to fill out the questionnaires or


provide explanations on why the research is conducted,
ii. Keep the questions short and easy to answer
iii. Create questions that are easy to tabulate or analyse; eg. numbers
iv. Ask only one thing at one time.
NOT: “Do you read books and magazines regularly?”
v. Pretest the questionnaire on a sample group

http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/559/06/
Now, in pair try this exercise:

1. You are carrying out a research on the use of social media such as Facebook,
Twitter, Youtube and Google Documents for teaching and learning purpose. One of the
research objectives is to get their perception on the use of such media in Technical
Writing class.

Prepare 6 different questions using different types of survey questions.