Background: As noted by Kirk (2016), working with data is one of the four stages of the visualization workflow. According to Kirk (2016), “A dataset is a collection of data values upon which a visualization is based.” In this course, we will be using datasets that have already been collected for us. Data can be collected by various collection techniques.
Reference: Kirk, Andy. Data Visualisation: A Handbook for Data Driven Design (p. 50). SAGE Publications.
Assignment: Summarize 3 data collection techniques (Interviews, Surveys, Observations, Focus Groups, etc.). Compare and contrast the 3 data collection techniques you selected. Lastly, what collection techniques do you prefer and why?
Data Collection Methods
Conducting research as mentioned by Wendy Olsen in the book Data Collection: Key Debates and Methods in Social Research (2012), is not just about gathering information as a journalist would; it involves acquiring information that no one else has, more than what is already there. Olsen further explains that the best kind of research should first be planned in order to achieve the best-intended results. To accomplish this as a researcher, one needs “systematic, well-grounded research methods (Olsen, 2012, pg.3). A research process involves collecting data and then performing a structure analysis, which is then critically interpreted to produce the desired results. Methods of collecting such as interviews and direct observation are used for qualitative studies. On the other hand, quantitative data research collects numerical data that has to be analyzed to acquire the necessary conclusions. (Albers, 2017). This essay analyses the different types of data collection methods such as interviews, structured observation, and questionnaires; how they compare and differ, and finally which one I would prefer to use.
An interview is defined as “a conversation, whose purpose is for gathering information between the interviewee (the individual being asked questions) and the interviewer (the one asking the questions) (Alshenqeeti, 2014). Here, the engagement is interactive and the interviewer can press for further clarification in order to acquire clearer answers on different topics. Information is obtained in a more natural and less structured manner compared to others. There are four types of interviews, one of which is the structured type, where there is a set of predetermined direct question that requires immediate “yes” or “no” answers. This form of an interview does not provide the freedom for clarification and so the answer is taken as it is (Alshenqeeti, 2014). This is unlike the second type which is the open-ended (unstructured) interview that allows for flexibility and freedom for the interviewer to probe further for information. The semi-structured interview shares semblance with the latter in that flexibility is also allowed, but it is slightly more organized and researchers are recommended to use a basic checklist that ensures that all the needed areas are covered. Lastly. Focus-group interviews involve the selection of participants to sample a specific population on a chosen topic (Alshenqeen, 2014).
This involves the researcher seeking and recording information that holds a certain interest in the investigation. (Aparasu, 2010). Structured observation focuses on the attention of the investigator on a certain variable and requires the investigator to observe using different categories or values. This method can either be direct or indirect. Direct observation requires the investigator to observe and record situations they are investigating as they occur. One attempts to stay hidden or disguised in order to capture the needed information uninfluenced. Hidden video or audio can alternatively be used in this method. In undisguised observation, the investigator identifies themselves and makes it known on what they are investigating (Aparasu, 2010). There are advantages and disadvantages to both methods of observation. In the former, a researcher is able to obtain information without the people being observed altering their behavior. On the other hand, in undisguised observation, the investigator is allowed to ask questions and clarification to certain questions (Aparasu, 2010)
A questionnaire is defined as a document that contains questions and other types of items designed to extract specific information appropriate for analysis. There are two types of questionnaires, structured and unstructured. Structured include pre-coded questions which are well defined while unstructured include open-ended and vague opinion-type questions. This is the main data collection method used in research. The main challenge of questionnaires is finding and constructing the most appropriate information to answer the author’s question. The author has to think of questions to be answered and different sources of information available. This method is advantageous because it is cheap, there is no bias, there is anonymity and can be faxed or even emailed (Vannette and Krosnick, 2018).
The differences that exist between these methods revolve around the form. An interview is oral while the questionnaire is written. Observation has neither of the two as it involves the investigator observing the setting to extract information the required. In questionnaires, the questions are closed-ended while in interviews, mostly they are open-ended. Questionnaires are factual while interviews are analytical. (Surbhi, 2016) However, they are similar in a way that they can both be self-ministered. Personally, my preferred method of data collection is interview due to the freedom and flexibility involved. As a researcher, I am allowed to probe for further clarification on the subjects being explored. Further, the information gathered is authentic and cannot be changed by a third party. Interviews are cheaper to conduct and also easier to analyze in order to produce a final report. Further, the hustle of too many people that comes with other data collection methods such as surveys and focus groups is absent as it involves only two people, therefore making the process both manageable for the interviewer and the individual being interviewed.
Alshenqeeti, H (2014). Interviewing as a Data Collection Method: A Critical Review.
Aparasu, R. (2010). Research methods for pharmaceutical practice and policy. London: Pharmaceutical.
In Vannette, D. L., & In Krosnick, J. A. (2018). The Palgrave handbook of survey research.
Olsen, W. K. (2012). Data collection: Key debates and methods in social research
Surbhi, S (2016). Difference between Questionnaire and interview.