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Data Collection Methods: A Comprehensive View

What Is Data Processing

Companies that want to be competitive in today’s digital economy enjoy the benefit of countless reams of data available for market research. In fact, thanks to the advent of big data, there’s a veritable tidal wave of information ready to be put to good use, helping businesses make intelligent decisions and thrive.

But before that data can be used, it must be processed. But before it can be processed, it must be collected, and that’s what we’re here for. This article explores the subject of data collection. We will learn about the types of data collection methods and why they are essential.

We will detail primary and secondary data collection methods and discuss data collection procedures. We’ll also share how you can learn practical skills through online data science training.

But first, let’s get the definition out of the way. What is data collection?

What is Data Collection?

Data collection is the act of collecting, measuring and analyzing different kinds of information using a set of validated standard procedures and techniques. The primary objective of data collection procedures is to gather reliable, information-rich data and analyze it to make critical business decisions. Once the desired data is collected, it undergoes a process of data cleaning and processing to make the information actionable and valuable for businesses.

Your choice of data collection method (or alternately called a data gathering procedure) depends on the research questions you’re working on, the type of data required, and the available time and resources and time. You can categorize data-gathering procedures into two main methods:

  • Primary data collection. Primary data is collected via first-hand experiences and does not reference or use the past. The data obtained by primary data collection methods is exceptionally accurate and geared to the research’s motive. They are divided into two categories: quantitative and qualitative. We’ll explore the specifics later.
  • Secondary data collection. Secondary data is the information that’s been used in the past. The researcher can obtain data from internal and external sources, including organizational data.

Let’s take a closer look at specific examples of both data collection methods.

Also Read:Why Use Python for Data Science?

The Specific Types of Data Collection Methods

As mentioned, primary data collection methods are split into quantitative and qualitative. We will examine each method’s data collection tools separately. Then, we will discuss secondary data collection methods.

Quantitative Methods

Quantitative techniques for demand forecasting and market research typically use statistical tools. When using these techniques, historical data is used to forecast demand. These primary data-gathering procedures are most often used to make long-term forecasts. Statistical analysis methods are highly reliable because they carry minimal subjectivity.

  • Barometric Method. Also called the leading indicators approach, data analysts and researchers employ this method to speculate on future trends based on current developments. When past events are used to predict future events, they are considered leading indicators.
  • Smoothing Techniques. Smoothing techniques can be used in cases where the time series lacks significant trends. These techniques eliminate random variation from historical demand and help identify demand levels and patterns to estimate future demand. The most popular methods used in these techniques are the simple moving average and the weighted moving average methods.
  • Time Series Analysis. The term “time series” refers to the sequential order of values in a variable, also known as a trend, at equal time intervals. Using patterns, organizations can predict customer demand for their products and services during the projected time.

Qualitative Methods

Qualitative data collection methods are instrumental when no historical information is available, or numbers and mathematical calculations aren’t required. Qualitative research is closely linked to words, emotions, sounds, feelings, colors, and other non-quantifiable elements. These techniques rely on experience, conjecture, intuition, judgment, emotion, etc. Quantitative methods do not provide motives behind the participants’ responses. Additionally, they often don’t reach underrepresented populations and usually involve long data collection periods. Therefore, you get the best results using quantitative and qualitative methods together.

  • Questionnaires. Questionnaires are a printed set of either open-ended or closed-ended questions. Respondents must answer based on their experience and knowledge of the issue. A questionnaire is a part of a survey, while the questionnaire’s end goal doesn’t necessarily have to be a survey.
  • Surveys. Surveys collect data from target audiences, gathering insights into their opinions, preferences, choices, and feedback on the organization’s goods and services. Most survey software has a wide range of question types, or you can also use a ready-made survey template that saves time and effort. Surveys can be distributed via different channels such as e-mail, offline apps, websites, social media, QR codes, etc.

Once researchers collect the data, survey software generates reports and runs analytics algorithms to uncover hidden insights. Survey dashboards give you statistics relating to completion rates, response rates, filters based on demographics, export and sharing options, etc. Practical business intelligence depends on the synergy between analytics and reporting. Analytics uncovers valuable insights while reporting communicates these findings to the stakeholders.

  • Polls. Polls consist of one or more multiple-choice questions. Marketers can turn to polls when they want to take a quick snapshot of the audience’s sentiments. Since polls tend to be short, getting people to respond is more manageable. Like surveys, online polls can be embedded into various media and platforms. Once the respondents answer the question(s), they can be shown how they stand concerning other people’s responses.
  • Delphi Technique. The name is a callback to the Oracle of Delphi, a priestess at Apollo’s temple in ancient Greece, renowned for her prophecies. In this method, marketing experts are given the forecast estimates and assumptions made by other industry experts. The first batch of experts may then use the information provided by the other experts to revise and reconsider their estimates and assumptions. The total expert consensus on the demand forecasts creates the final demand forecast.
  • Interviews. In this method, interviewers talk to the respondents either face-to-face or by telephone. In the first case, the interviewer asks the interviewee a series of questions in person and notes the responses. The interviewer can opt for a telephone interview if the parties cannot meet in person. This data collection form is practical for use with only a few respondents; repeating the same process with a considerably larger group takes longer.
  • Focus Groups. Focus groups are one of the primary examples of qualitative data in education. In focus groups, small groups of people, usually around 8-10 members, discuss the research problem’s common aspects. Each person provides their insights on the issue, and a moderator regulates the discussion. When the discussion ends, the group reaches a consensus.

Also Read:A Beginner’s Guide to the Data Science Process

Secondary Data Collection Methods

Secondary data is the information that’s been used in past situations. Secondary data collection methods can include quantitative and qualitative techniques. In addition, secondary data is easily available, so it’s less time-consuming and expensive than using primary data. However, the authenticity of data gathered with secondary data collection tools cannot be verified.

Internal secondary data sources:

  • CRM Software
  • Executive summaries
  • Financial Statements
  • Mission and vision statements
  • Magazines
  • Organization’s health and safety records
  • Sales Reports

External secondary data sources:

  • Business journals
  • Government reports
  • Internet
  • Libraries
  • Press releases

The Importance of Data Collection Methods

Data collection methods play a critical part in the research process as they determine the accuracy and quality and accuracy of the collected data. Here’s a sample of some reasons why data collection procedures are so important:

  • They determine the quality and accuracy of collected data
  • They ensure the data and the research findings are valid, relevant and reliable
  • They help reduce bias and increase the sample’s representation
  • They are crucial for making informed decisions and arriving at accurate conclusions
  • They provide accurate data, which facilitates the achievement of research objectives

Also Read:What Is Data Processing? Definition, Examples, Trends

So, What’s the Difference Between Data Collecting and Data Processing?

Data collection is the first step in the data processing process. Data collection involves gathering information (raw data) from various sources such as interviews, surveys, questionnaires, etc. Data processing describes the steps taken to organize, manipulate and transform the collected data into a useful and meaningful resource. This process may include tasks such as cleaning and validating data, analyzing and summarizing data, and creating visualizations or reports.

So, data collection is just one step in the overall data processing chain of events.

Do You Want to Become a Data Scientist?

If this discussion about data collection and the professionals who conduct it has sparked your enthusiasm for a new career, why not check out this online data science program?

The Glassdoor.com jobs website shows that data scientists in the United States typically make an average yearly salary of $129,127 plus additional bonuses and cash incentives. So, if you’re interested in a new career or are already in the field but want to upskill or refresh your current skill set, sign up for this bootcamp and prepare to tackle the challenges of today’s big data.

You might also like to read:

Navigating Data Scientist Roles and Responsibilities in Today’s Market

Differences Between Data Scientist and Data Analyst: Complete Explanation

What Is Data Collection? A Guide for Aspiring Data Scientists

A Data Scientist Job Description: The Roles and Responsibilities in 2024

Top Data Science Projects With Source Code to Try

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