The techniques and tools of research are as varied as the studies out there from looking at books from letters from articles from reports from so on so forth each have a different form and way of being written the goal is to decipher the information and use it in a positive manner for your purposes.

Question: “What are some of the tools and techniques that researchers use?” Answer: There are many research tools and techniques that researchers may use while engaged in designing a study, analyzing data or interpreting results. Some of the main research methods include surveys, focus groups, observation, experimental studies, case studies and statistical analysis.

EXISTING DATA

This is the introduction of new investigative questions in addition to/other than the ones originally used when the data was initially gathered. It involves adding measurement to a study or research. An example would be sourcing data from an archive.

Pros

  • Accuracy is very high.
  • Easily accessible information.

Cons

  • Problems with evaluation.
  • Difficulty in understanding. 

What are the Best Data Collection Tools for Existing Data?

The concept of Existing data means that data is collected from existing sources to investigate research questions other than those for which the data were originally gathered. Tools to collect existing data include: 

  • Research Journals – Unlike newspapers and magazines, research journals are intended for an academic or technical audience, not general readers. A journal is a scholarly publication containing articles written by researchers, professors, and other experts. 
  • Surveys – A survey is a data collection tool for gathering information from a sample population, with the intention of generalizing the results to a larger population. Surveys have a variety of purposes and can be carried out in many ways depending on the objectives to be achieved.

Interviews

Interviews should be conducted according to a well planned travel schedule. The number of interviews should be in the range of 3-4 stakeholders from each functional level (i.e., input supplier, producer, trader, processor, wholesaler, retailer, exporter and importer) in addition to 2-3 individuals from key informants, agencies and supporting market participants.

Busy firm managers may be hesitant to take part in a survey, particularly if they have participated in numerous surveys in the past. It is important to state at the outset the approximate time the interview will take and to respect that timeframe. Below are additional guiding principles that interviewers should assess prior to initiating the interviews. Most guidelines are common sense items. It is the responsibility of team leaders to review these even with seasoned interviewers:

  • Honesty: Be totally honest about who you are, who you work for and the purpose of the interview. Start each interview with a clear explanation of the research purpose, using terms that are understandable and meaningful to the informant.
  • Deliberateness: Be deliberate about the way you speak to the informant. Never interrupt the informant. Speak clearly and establish a comfortable pace (which often means slowing down the way you would normally speak). Allow a space after the informant stops talking, in case he or she wants to elaborate. Never ask leading questions.
  • Launching point: Begin each interview by establishing a common frame of reference between you and the informant so that the informant understands what kinds of information interest you. A value chain map can be very helpful for this because it immediately communicates that you are interested in learning about the value chain. It also allows the informant to understand where you think he or she fits in, and to correct you if you are wrong.
  • Strategic ignorance: Make it very clear that you consider the informant to be the expert and that you consider yourself the learner. Conduct yourself as if you were the student of the informant, freely asking for clarification and examples.
  • Triangulation: Do not accept one informant’s opinion at face value. Gather the same type of information from other informants—who may have a different experience or interpretation—before reaching any firm conclusions. As a general rule of thumb, you should hear something similar from at least three distinct sources before you accept it as more or less accurate.
  • Privacy: Try to interview the informant where others can not listen in. Never share information about an informant’s business with other firm owners. Avoid bringing observers to an interview.
  • Expand the net: At the end of the interview, ask if the informant can recommend others to be interviewed, but do not force the issue if the interviewee shows hesitancy.

Pros 

  • In-depth information
  • Freedom of flexibility
  • Accurate data.

Cons 

  • Time-consuming
  • Expensive to collect.

What are the best Data Collection Tools for Interviews? 

For collecting data through interviews, here are a few tools you can use to easily collect data.

  • Audio Recorder

An audio recorder is used for recording sound on disc, tape, or film. Audio information can meet the needs of a wide range of people, as well as provide alternatives to print data collection tools.

  • Digital Camera

An advantage of a digital camera is that it can be used for transmitting those images to a monitor screen when the need arises.

  • Camcorder

A camcorder is used for collecting data through interviews. It provides a combination of both an audio recorder and a video camera. The data provided is qualitative in nature and allows the respondents to answer questions asked exhaustively. If you need to collect sensitive information during an interview, a camcorder might not work for you as you would need to maintain your subject’s privacy.

Want to conduct an interview for qualitative data research or special report? Use this online interview consent form template to allow the interviewee to give their consent before you use the interview data for research or report. With premium features like e-signature, upload fields, form security, etc., Formplus Builder is the perfect tool to create your preferred online consent forms without coding experience.

REPORTING

By definition, data reporting is the process of gathering and submitting data to be further subjected to analysis. The key aspect of data reporting is reporting accurate data because of inaccurate data reporting leads to uninformed decision making.

Pros 

  • Informed decision-making.
  • Easily accessible.

Cons

  • Self-reported answers may be exaggerated.
  • The results may be affected by bias.
  • Respondents may be too shy to give out all the details.
  • Inaccurate reports will lead to uninformed decisions.

What are the best Data Collection Tools for Reporting?

Reporting tools enable you to extract and present data in charts, tables, and other visualizations so users can find useful information. You could source data for reporting from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) reports, newspapers, website articles, hospital records.

  • NGO Reports

Contained in NGO reports is an in-depth and comprehensive report on the activities carried out by the NGO, covering areas such as business and human rights. The information contained in these reports is research-specific and forms an acceptable academic base for collecting data. NGOs often focus on development projects which are organized to promote particular causes.

  • Newspapers

Newspaper data are relatively easy to collect and are sometimes the only continuously available source of event data. Even though there is a problem of bias in newspaper data, it is still a valid tool in collecting data for Reporting.

  • Website Articles

Gathering and using data contained in website articles is also another tool for data collection. Collecting data from web articles is a quicker and less expensive data collection Two major disadvantages of using this data reporting method are biases inherent in the data collection process and possible security/confidentiality concerns.

  • Hospital Care records

Health care involves a diverse set of public and private data collection systems, including health surveys, administrative enrollment and billing records, and medical records, used by various entities, including hospitals, CHCs, physicians, and health plans. The data provided is clear, unbiased and accurate, but must be obtained under legal means as medical data is kept with the strictest regulations.

QUESTIONNAIRES

This is the process of collecting data through an instrument consisting of a series of questions and prompts to receive a response from individuals it is administered to. Questionnaires are designed to collect data from a group. 

For clarity, it is important to note that a questionnaire isn’t a survey, rather it forms a part of it. A survey is a process of data gathering involving a variety of data collection methods, including a questionnaire.

On a questionnaire, there are three kinds of questions used. They are; fixed-alternative, scale, and open-ended. With each of the questions tailored to the nature and scope of the research.

Pros  

  • Can be administered in large numbers and is cost-effective.
  • It can be used to compare and contrast previous research to measure change.
  • Easy to visualize and analyze.
  • Questionnaires offer actionable data.
  • Respondent identity is protected.
  • Questionnaires can cover all areas of a topic.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Cons

  • Answers may be dishonest or the respondents lose interest midway.
  • Questionnaires can’t produce qualitative data.
  • Questions might be left unanswered. 
  • Respondents may have a hidden agenda.
  • Not all questions can be analyzed easily.

What are the best Data Collection Tools for Questionnaire? 

Formplus lets you create powerful forms to help you collect the information you need. Formplus helps you create the online forms that you like. The Formplus online questionnaire form template to get actionable trends and measurable responses. Conduct research, optimize knowledge of your brand or just get to know an audience with this form template. The form template is fast, free and fully customizable.

  • Paper Questionnaire

A paper questionnaire is a data collection tool consisting of a series of questions and/or prompts for the purpose of gathering information from respondents. Mostly designed for statistical analysis of the responses, they can also be used as a form of data collection.

OBSERVATION

This is a data collection method by which information on a phenomenon is gathered through observation. The nature of the observation could be accomplished either as a complete observer, an observer as a participant, a participant as an observer, or as a complete participant. This method is a key base for formulating a hypothesis.

Pros

  • Easy to administer.
  • There subsists a greater accuracy with results.
  • It is a universally accepted practice.
  • It diffuses the situation of an unwillingness of respondents to administer a report.
  • It is appropriate for certain situations.

Cons

  • Some phenomena aren’t open to observation.
  • It cannot be relied upon.
  • Bias may arise.
  • It is expensive to administer.
  • Its validity cannot be predicted accurately.

What are the best Data Collection Tools for Observation?

Observation involves the active acquisition of information from a primary source. Observation can also involve the perception and recording of data via the use of scientific instruments. The best tools for Observation are:

  • Checklists – state-specific criteria, allow users to gather information and make judgments about what they should know in relation to the outcomes. They offer systematic ways of collecting data about specific behaviors, knowledge, and skills.
  • Direct observation – This is an observational study method of collecting evaluative information. The evaluator watches the subject in his or her usual environment without altering that environment.

Conclusion

Research Techniques is a website dedicated to helping students with educational research. This site contains examples of different types of research tools and techniques with tips on how, when and why they should be used. Researching for a test or a presentation can be made easier when you know what research techniques are available to use.

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