How to Collect Data for Thesis and Research Paper

How to Collect Data for Thesis or Research Paper

Information you gather can come from a range of sources. Likewise, there are a variety of techniques to use when gathering primary data. Listed below are some of the most common data collection techniques.

Interviews

  • Interviews can be conducted in person or over the telephone
  • They can be done formally (structured), semi-structured, or informally
  • Questions should be focused, clear, and encourage open-ended responses

Example:
One-on-one conversation with parent of at-risk youth who can help you understand the issue.

You should read – What is Research? Research Methods vs Research Methodology, Research Methods vs Research Techniques
and – What is the Objective of a Research, Motivation of a Research and Criteria for a Good Research

Questionnaires and Surveys

A survey is a research method used for collecting data from a predefined group of respondents to gain information and insights into various topics of interest. They can have multiple purposes, and researchers can conduct it in many ways depending on the methodology chosen and the study’s goal. In the current age, research is of extreme importance, and hence it’s essential for us to understand the benefits of social research for a target population using the right survey tool.

A questionnaire is a research instrument that consists of a set of questions or other types of prompts that aims to collect information from a respondent. A research questionnaire is typically a mix of close-ended questions and open-ended questions. Open-ended, long-form questions offer the respondent the ability to elaborate on their thoughts. Research questionnaires were developed in 1838 by the Statistical Society of London.
Responses received through these methods can be analyzed with quantitative methods by assigning numerical values to Likert-type scales.
Example:
Results of a satisfaction survey or opinion survey.

Observations

This method implies the collection of information by way of investigator’s own observation, without interviewing the respondents.
The information obtained relates to what is currently happening and is not complicated by either the past behavior or future intentions or attitudes of respondents.

Example
Site visits to an after-school program to document the interaction between youth and staff within the program.

Focus Groups

A focus group is a gathering of deliberately selected people who participate in a planned discussion that is intended to elicit consumer perceptions about a particular topic or area of interest in an environment that is non-threatening and receptive.
The focus group is a collective on purpose. Unlike an interview, which usually occurs with an individual, the focus group method allows members of the group to interact and influence each other during the discussion and consideration of ideas and perspectives.

Example:
A group of parents of teenagers in an after-school program are invited to informally discuss programs that might benefit and help their children succeed.

also read – Research Types – Qualitative vs Quantitative Research, Applied vs Fundamental Research, Conceptual vs Empirical Research

Ethnographies, Oral History, and Case Studies

  • Involves studying a single phenomenon
  • Examines people in their natural settings
  • Uses a combination of techniques such as observation, interviews, and surveys
  • Ethnography is a more holistic approach to evaluation
  • Researcher can become a confounding variable

Example:
Shadowing a family while recording extensive field notes to study the experience and issues associated with youth who have a parent or guardian that has been deployed.

Documents and Records

Consists of examining existing data in the form of databases, meeting minutes, reports, attendance logs, financial records, newsletters, etc.
This can be an inexpensive way to gather information but may be an incomplete data source.

Example:
Understanding the primary reasons students miss school, records on student absences are collected and analyzed.

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