Data Collection Methods cover

Data Collection Methods: A Guide For Beginners

A data collection is a pool of information comprising anything from statistics to objects. In most (if not all) organisations, data collection serves as a vital resource for research. Studying data can help you understand your clients’ needs, interests and concerns, enabling you to make decisions and improve the quality of your product/service to better cater to the crowd. It also allows you to observe trends and plan accordingly to maximise performance and growth. 

Qualitative vs Quantitative 

Data falls into two main categories: qualitative and quantitative. 

Quantitative data refers to things that can be counted, such as dates, quantities and other values. Examining such data requires mathematical calculation to arrive at a conclusion. Given how they are strictly based on numerical figures, quantitative data is known for being an objective and reliable source of estimation. 

Meanwhile, qualitative data refers to any other kinds of non-numerical information which tend to be more descriptive and open-ended in nature, like oral interviews and commentaries. Although qualitative data is less measurable and more subjective than quantitative data, it nevertheless supplements the latter with valuable insights. 

Types of data collection methods 

Data is only effective when it’s specific and organised— too much and it’ll just be a convoluted mess. That’s why, in executing your collection process, it’s important to possess the proper data collection methods. Here are some examples of ways to collect data below: 

  • Surveys 
  • Questionnaires
  • Polls 
  • Experiments
  • Interviews 
  • Focus Group Discussions 
  • Records and Documentation
  • Observation
  • Digital software 

Not all of these methods are restricted to one specific category of data. They can be both quantitative and qualitative, depending on their format. For instance, a survey can offer both multiple choice (quantifiable) and open-ended (qualifiable) sections. 

Process of collecting data 

While data collection varies in purpose from organisation to organisation, we’ve summarised a general structure to guide your collection process! This structure comprises four simple and concise steps. Check them out below!

Data collection methods

1. Identify your purpose

Most fundamentally, you’ll need to know what your data will be used for, what information to retrieve and from where/who. For example, if you want to gain insights on the consumer demographics of a particular product, you might want to collect direct details from your customers such as their age, gender and nationality. 

2. Decide on a method 

Determine the specific data collection method to help you obtain your desired information. You can refer to the section above on “Types of data collection methods” for some ideas. Decide on your collection timeframe, whether you’ll be examining qualitative and/or quantitative data, as well as the format (e.g. what kind of questions you’ll ask, what materials you’ll need to conduct the collection, location, participants, etc.) 

3. Collect and analyse 

Once you’ve collated the information you need, you can begin studying it. While some might choose to evaluate the data manually, for instance via self-input into Word or Excel, we recommend running them through a secure and reliable online software that’ll minimise human errors and get the job done both quickly and efficiently. 

4. Implement findings 

After arriving at your conclusions, allow your findings to translate into practical solutions to enhance your business. This could mean revamping certain areas, from product design to social media strategy, or introducing a new service/item aimed at generating mass appeal. In addition, note down any patterns and trends that’ll guide you in making plans for the future. 

Data collection is a never-ending cycle. In growing your business, you’ll be constantly analysing data and updating your findings to stay relevant and maximise competency. In today’s increasingly digitised world, leverage on reliable software such as Forma’s no code platform to automate and streamline your data collection process! 

Build custom forms to retrieve information (from multiple choice selections to document uploads), design your workflow, and create personalised databases to store the information collated. It’s safe, efficient and time-conserving!

Give it a try here