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.
Methods of data collection
As a researcher, deciding what data collection method is suitable is a critical step towards achieving positive results. A data collection method should be carefully selected to be able to help in achieving the best results necessary to complete the research. By critically analyzing this, the researcher determines which method will elicit the best data (Friesen, 2010). A proper research uses more than one method of data collection to achieve desired quality results, therefore, no matter the method used in data acquisition, the general results should show some kind of similarity to be viewed as credible. There are various types of data collection methods such as surveys, case study, and focus groups (Friesen, 2010), to mention but a few. This essay explores these methods with regards to what they are and how they work, the similarities and differences that exist between them and finally, what I would prefer as a research method, supported by the rationale behind my preference.
A survey is a systematic method of gathering information from a sample of entities for the purpose of constructing quantitative descriptions of the attributes of the larger population of which the entities are members. (Avedian, 2014). This method is used to gather information on people’s attitude, behaviors, opinions, and beliefs that cannot be observed, Avedian further clarifies. The answers given in the survey and how closely people act will determine the success of a survey when it is conducted in a certain population. This type of data collection method is most used by sociologists where the surveys are mailed or handed out to participants to read and answer the questions while at the same time, indicating their opinions on certain subjects in the survey (Friesen, 2010). Surveys are also used by governments such as the United States, where every ten years, they conduct a nation-wide census to collect information regarding citizen demographics. Due to its nature, the information collected can easily be analyzed in a short period of time and it does not cost the organizers a lot of money. The research can easily be done as distribution of the required materials is easy. However, some of the participants of the survey sometimes do not return the survey results, therefore the accuracy is hindered. This is one of the main disadvantages of this method. Additionally, due to the absence of the researcher to clarify information that is not understandable to the participants, some of the answers do not necessarily match the question, further, hindering the quality of the research.
This is a data collection method where various methods or a single one is employed in the study of a single case. (Pawar, 2004). This case can be an individual, a family, a group, an organization, a community, a small town or a village. A case study investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context. There are three types of case studies. First is the intrinsic case study, whose purpose is to only understand an individual case by description. Secondly, the instrumental case study involves elaboration of a theory and gaining its deeper meaning on the case study. Last, the collective case study seeks to understand groups of people by conducting not just one but several case studies on them. It is detailed and deep and achieves the goal of gaining as much valuable information as possible; however, it takes a very long time for it to be complete and results to be achieved. (Pawar, 2004).
This is a data collection method that explores and examines what people think, why they think it and, why they believe the issue is of importance. (Liamputtong, 2011). Through this method, diverse understanding which would otherwise not have been able to be revealed is explored. Various individuals are put together to discuss a certain issue and in the process, acquire the necessary information regarding the issue. It allows for multiple channels of communication and a safe environment for those that have an issue with one –on- one interactions. Marginalized groups such as minorities use this method to express themselves and in the process, researchers gain the needed information (Liamputtong, 2011).
Nonetheless, there exists certain differences and similarities between these methods. For instance, when it comes to the form of questions asked, for a survey, the research question will read in the form of who, what, where, how many or how much. In contrast, case studies take the form of how and why only. Secondly, when it comes to controlling the behavior of participants, a survey does not require that control as compared to case study and focus groups that do. The similarity between these methods in that, they all focus on contemporary events, such as pandemics and issues pertaining to the community (Friesen, 2010).
Focus groups is what I would prefer to use when conducting research. This is because of the safe environment it offers for participants who have a problem with one-on-one conversations. In this method, many people come together as a group to discuss contemporary issues that affect their lives. This method will be fit for data collection as the participants will be open to sharing the kind of information they would not share at a different setting.
Avedian, Arevik (2014). Survey Design. Harvard Law School
Friesen, B. K. (2010). Designing and conducting your first interview project. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Liamputtong, P., & EBSCO Publishing (Firme). (2011). Focus group methodology: Principles and practices.
Pawar, M. S. (2004). Data collecting methods and experiences: A guide for social researchers. Elgin, IL: New Dawn Press.