Choosing The Right Data Collection Technique In 5 Simple Steps

Data collection is the process of assembling and sorting data regarding variables of interest. It allows researchers to answer, test or evaluate research questions, hypotheses and outcomes. It has a great impact on the success of a research; thus, this article aims to simplify data collection by telling students its five easy and simple steps. This article will discuss the five data collection techniques, five basic data collection steps and factors that students must consider while choosing the right data collection technique for research.

What Are the Five Data Collection Techniques? 

With the advent of digitalization and artificial intelligence, the collection of data has become easier compared to the past. These days, there are tons of tools and techniques devised for collecting the data that can best suit aims and objectives of research. For the sake of convenience, the data is divided into two main types that further guide the researcher in the selection of the most suitable technique for data collection. Some of these tools and techniques work well for the collection of the quantitative data, while others are ideal for the collection of qualitative data. Following are the five most important data collection techniques that researchers can use for gathering information to solve a scientific query;

Questionnaire and Survey

A questionnaire is a data collection technique that helps researchers in collecting both types of data- quantitative and qualitative from primary sources. A questionnaire is a list of questions used to gather data from the public or concerned people about their attitudes, practices, experiences, opinions, and knowledge. The questionnaire is the right data collection technique for marketing, health care and social sciences researches. 

A survey is another data collection technique that is the act of examining or asking questions from a small group of people to obtain their responses and opinions about a process, product or service. Questionnaires, face to face interviews, telephonic recording of the expert’s opinions, and focused groups are some common types of surveys. The survey can also collect both types of data- qualitative and quantitative data through primary sources. If you are unable to design surveys, get help from PhD dissertation writing services.


In interviews, researchers must not necessarily need to construct a well-structured questionnaire and survey. Rather, in this data collection technique, you just need to ask questions to the respondents either face to face or in a telephonic meeting. This technique works well for collecting qualitative data from primary sources. Moreover, it works well for the studies that include a small size of respondents. Interviews can collect information about complicated topics, such as healthcare, family welfare and other social issues that are often difficult to interpret.


Usually, healthcare and social science students record reading by keeping their subjects in a controlled environment (labs). They often manipulate the environmental conditions (independent variables) to note the variation in the dependent variables. Such setups for collecting data often aim to explore cause and affect relationships between different variables and are known as an experiment- a data collection technique that gives quantitative data from primary sources.  


Observation is relatively a simple data collection technique in which the researcher directly observes behaviour and activities of an individual in a natural setting. It involves the examination of a certain group of individuals and organisms under certain conditions. Also, the observation may be causal and scientific. It mostly collects data in the quantitative form that needs statistical tools for interpretation.    

Focused Groups

It is the data collection technique in which a small group of individuals calls for a meeting and discusses the topic of interest. It allows researchers to collect data in the form of perspectives to answer some research questions in the light of experts’ opinions. It is also the type of qualitative data collection method. 

What Are the Five Basic Steps in Collecting Data?

Data collection is one of the trickiest steps in the research process. People often think that they will just need to copy and paste some data from the so-called credible sources, put them in the spreadsheet of the software of their choice after manipulating it and can conduct a revolutionary research. This type of research only exists in imagination; it has no connection with reality. In reality, the data collection process comprises five steps that specify your research goals.

  1. Develop operations definitions or protocols
  2. Select the sampling technique and sample size
  3. Select the type of data that you want to gather to achieve the desired goals
  4. Select the data collection technique and resources to start the data collection.
  5. Analysing data using the right analysis tools and techniques and communicating the findings.

What Are the Possible Things to Consider in Choosing the Right Data Collection Method?

The data collection method is important as it helps us in tailoring data in the light of the specific research aims and controlling the research process for high validity and reliability. It provides us data necessary to determine the cause of the problem. The right data collection technique allows the researcher to know the relationships between all variables involved in a study. Thus, students must consider the following things in choosing the right data collection method for their undergraduate and graduate research:

Research Goals

The first factor that affects the selection of the right data collection method is the aims and objectives of a study. For example, if your research goals are to find the relationship between coffee consumption and hypertensive patients, experiments are the best tool to give the most appropriate data. Thus, the right data collection method will be the one that helps researchers in collecting the most appropriate data for achieving the research aims.     

Statistical Significance:

The next thing is to decide whether you need to find statistical relationships between the variables. The calculation for statistical significance needs a number of statistical tools. For example, if the aim of the research is to draw results based on opinions and perceptions, then questionnaires or surveys are the most useful tools for data collection rather than experiments. Moreover, statistical tools are important for testing the truth in hypothesis.

Appropriate Sampling Size

Another simple thing that helps researchers to select the right data collection technique is the sample size. Based on the sample size, the data collection method becomes easier. For example, if you need a small sample size to gather information for determining facts behind a phenomenon, then the available options will be face-to-face interviews and focused groups. However, if you are unable to figure out the appropriate sampling size, you can get the best dissertation help.

Final Thoughts

Data collection is the lengthiest part of a research process. It needs a lot of preparation, resources and planning. The most common techniques of data collection involve interviews, surveys or questionnaires, focused groups, experiments, and observation. The steps that may help you collect the data more conveniently includes setting pre-defined goals, developing operating procedures, selecting appropriate sampling technique, deciding the type of data needed for research and estimating resources required for data collection. Hence, students should consider research goals, sample size, and statistical significance for choosing the right data collection method.

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