28th January 2010IntroductionMany organisations rely on data and information to ensure the organisation operates efficiently, and are able to formulate strategies that are effective. To understand effectively business environment, the organisations and businesses have to gather information that are appropriate to a person, situation, phenomenon or problem (De Leeuw, 2005). In other times, information that is required is already available but they need only to be extracted. However, sometime such information is hard to come along and thus the need for collecting them. The processing of collecting information can be viewed in two major approaches that may be referred as primary and secondary data.
Thus, the aim of this paper is to analyse types of data collection and application of data collection. Broad ApproachesSecondary sources is the information that is obtained from books, periodicals e. g. has already been gathered while primary sources obtains its information directly from the respondents or environment (Tourangeau and Smith, 1996). Some example of secondary data may include census data to enable obtaining information on the age-sex structure of population, use of organisational records, hospital records to find out the mortality and morbidity, and the collection of data from periodicals, magazines and books (De Leeuw, 2005; Bush & Hair, 1985).
On the other hand, primary data source includes evaluating a social program, ascertaining health needs, determining job satisfaction, and evaluating impact of marketing strategy. The difference between primary and secondary sources is that primary sources provide first-hand information while the secondary sources provide second hand information (Kvale & Brinkmann, 2008). Thus, the sources of primary information are observation, interviewing and questionnaire while secondary sources are documents (Bachman & Schutt, 2003).
Collecting data using primary sourcesDifferent methods can be used o collect primary data but the choice of the method depends upon the study itself, skills of the researcher and availability of resources. Nevertheless, the quality of a study may be affected due to constraints that are associated with skills that are required and resources (Bachman & Schutt, 2003). Before carrying out any research, it is crucial to understand the socioeconomic-demographic characteristics of the study population; this means that it is foremost to ensure that characteristics such as socioeconomic status, educational level, age structure and ethnic background is known in the case of a marketing research (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2000).
Moreover, it could be helpful to understand the population interest and attitudes towards participating in the study (Axinn & Pearce, 2006). For example, some populations may not be comfortable due to a number of reasons, may not be comfortable to expresses opinions or they may not be at ease with a particular method for data collection. Another factor that may affect the quality of data is the relevance and purpose of study is clearly explained to potential respondents (Rowley, 2006).
ObservationObservation can be defined as a technique that involves collecting data systematically through selecting, watching, and recording characteristics and behaviour of objects, living beings or phenomena. Kumar (2005) defines observation as “observation is a purposeful, systematic and selective way of watching and listening to an interaction or phenomenon as it takes place” (p. 119). Observation method is appropriate in those cases when psychological behaviour is to be analysed. Some of the information that can be collected includes ascertaining performance by a worker, learning about the interaction in a group, studying dietary patterns of a population, or studying personality traits of an individual (Pratt & Loizos, 1992).
Powell (1997) states that some conditions that the approach should fulfil so that it can be viewed as data collection criteria. Powell states that, “scientific observation should be systematic; objective, and free from bias; quantitative whenever possible; and strong in usability, reliability, and validity” (p. 117).