Data collection refers to the gathering of set of observations about variables and it is the starting point of research methods. Basically, there are two types of data which are: primary data and secondary data. Primary data is received from first hand sources such as: direct observation, interview, survey, and questionnaire etc. On the other hand, secondary data is received from secondary sources such as: printed material and published material etc. Here, we will only discuss the primary sources of data collection. The methods which are used for the primary data collection are described below:


Observation Method


This is a method of primary data collection in which researchers collect data based on their personal observation. For-example if a researcher wants to collect data about the employee’s job satisfaction in any organization. For this purpose researcher will interact with employees to observe their behavior in order to assess their job satisfaction. Take another example, suppose in case of textile industry, investigator wants to indentify job satisfaction of machine operators and different workers; he/she would select the respondents through random sampling. The investigator will carefully observe and interact with the workers to know whether they are satisfied with their job or not. But the identity of the investigator should not be revealed. Observation method gives the opportunity to record the customer behavior directly. This method is costly and time consuming as compared to other methods of data collection. Results of the observation method could be distorted with personal biases and thinking of the investigator.


Personal Interview


This is a method of primary data collection in which questionnaire is used as a data collection tool. Several interviewers are sent to the respondents with interview questionnaire under the guidance of research in defined interview environment. It is described in terms of time, place and numerous other factors which have influence over interviewees. Personal interviews are categorized into self-administered questionnaires; door-to-door interview, mall intercept surveys, executive interview and purchase intercept technique.            


Telephone Interview


This is one of the most significant primary data collection methods. The significant features of the telephone interview are: selecting telephone numbers, call timing, call outcomes and call report.  Telephone interview is known as dominant and cost-effective method because of the following reasons:

  1. Higher chance to reach the respondents at any place (geography).
  2. Saving travel time and cost.
  3. Low overall interview conducting time of sample as compared to other methods.
  4. Higher chances of random selection of units among the population having telephone connections.

Shortcomings of the Telephone Interview are Given Below

  1. Impossible to employee visual aids.
  2. Majority of population do not have telephone connection.
  3. Higher probability of discontinue conversation; it may result in incomplete interview.


Mail Survey


Mail survey is a primary data collection method in which questionnaire is used as a data collection tool. In mail survey, researchers mail questionnaires to the respondents. The respondents then fill the questionnaire and return at their convenience. Some of the important advantages of using mail survey for data collection are given below:

  1. Less time and cost of data collection.
  2. Greater population coverage.
  3. Absence of the interview’s bias.

Shortcoming of the Mail Survey Method

  1. Respondents identity is not known to the researcher.
  2. Colleagues of the respondent may fill the questionnaire on behalf of respondent.
  3. Return ratio of the filled questionnaires may be low.
  4. There may be delay to return the filled questionnaire.

The Mailing of Questionnaire Engages the Following Tasks

  1. Deciding questionnaire content, length, layout and format.
  2. Envelop type selection.
  3. Determining the post mode.
  4. Designing the covering letter.
  5. Follow-up and notification information.
  6. Variety of the incentives to be given to potential respondents (if any).
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