Methods of data collection


Collection means ‘assembling’ for the purpose of particular investigation of entirely new data, presumably not available in published sources. It is necessary to collect accurate data to achieve useful results. It is helpful to consider methods of collecting data and quality of information they may be expected to produce.

The two basic methods of data collection are:

Observation Method:

In this method the observers obtain the information by the respondent’s action instead of the verbal report. The data obtained by this method is more accurate than that obtained through questionnaire.

Questionnaire Method:

Under this method questions related to the survey (i.e. questionnaire) is given to the respondents in which questions are printed and space is provided for the answers. The respondents are required to fill the answers and return it to the surveyors.

Advantages of Questionnaire:
(a) It is most versatile.
(b) Faster and cheaper than observation methods.
(c) Interviews have more control over their data gathering activities than observers.

There are three different communication methods of using questionnaire. They are

(i) Direct personal interviews.
(ii) Indirect personal interviews.
(iii) Mail.

1. Direct personal interviews: In this type the interviewer obtains information from the respondents in face-to-face meetings. The cost involved in this type is high when compared to other types.

2. Indirect personal interviews: This is mainly done through telephones. The interviews are relatively unstructured (no specific pattern). They are not as versatile as personal interviews.

3. Mail: In this method questionnaire is sent to the respondent through the post, and filled in questionnaire is mailed back by the respondents. There is no direct involvement of interviewer in mail surveys.

Common sources of error in field work.

(a) Errors in selecting respondents
(b) Failure to get response from selected respondents.
(c) Errors created by the method or seeking data.
(d) Errors resulting for interviewer misinterpreting answers.
(e) Interviewer cheating.

Data Analysis and Evaluation

The data collected is then edited and tabulated. The process of editing involves checking whether questionnaire has been properly answered, or any information is missing, or also to check the accuracy and validity of the collected data. Tabulation is arranging the collected data in the form of tables for easy use. Thus, from the data collected, only the relevant / valid part is tabulated for further presentation.

Preparation and Presentation of Research Report

After the analysis and evaluation of the raw data collected during the field survey, it would now be communicated in an attractive and effective manner.

The following are the points that one must consider while presenting a report:

* Report should adhere to the study objectives.
* Report should be selective.
* Presentation of the report should be objective.
* Report should serve a purpose for the organization.

The Report Format should contain:

* Title Page
* Contents
* Statement of objectives
* Methodology
* Limitations.
* Findings.
* Conclusions

Based on the report presented the manager will be in a position to take the decision based on the data collected.

Thus, marketing research helps in improving the design and development of the product, sales, customer services and finally the profitability position of the company.