5 tools to collect information
There are different instruments to collect information that are used depending on the purpose. The proper design of these instruments is essential to reach reliable and valid conclusions.
Here are some examples of instruments that you can use to collect qualitative or quantitative data for your analysis.
Examples of instruments for collecting information
Data collection is an important step in the research process. The instrument you choose to collect your data will depend on the types of data you plan to collect (qualitative or quantitative) and how you plan to collect it.
Various instruments are used in research to collect information:
Archival documents and government sources
Paper questionnaire or online questionnaires
Face-to-face focus groups or online focus groups
Let’s look in more detail at three of the instruments for collecting information that are considered the most widely used.
The questionnaire is a tool designed for the collection of quantitative data, and is widely used in research, as it is a good research instrument for collecting standardized data and making generalizations.
Questionnaires can provide quick responses, but due care must be taken in creating them to ensure that the response received is not influenced. The design of the questionnaire should reflect the objectives of the research.
We share 18 examples of questionnaires for an investigation.
Interviews are primarily a tool for qualitative data collection and are popular as information gathering tools due to their flexibility.
The interactions that are generated in an interview can be presented in a structured or semi-structured way to generate ideas and concepts.
When planning and considering an interview, the following factors are taken into account:
Interviews require specialized skills on the part of the interviewer, who will need to have a good relationship with the interviewee to ensure that a very detailed and valid qualitative data set is actually collected and effectively transcribed.
There are different types of interview:
Individual, face-to-face verbal exchange
Face-to-face group interviews (focus groups)
Interviews can be:
Done in one go
Performed as multiple and longer sessions
Structured, semi-structured, unstructured interviews
Observation is another of the instruments to collect information that consists of observing individuals in their natural environment or in a situation that occurs naturally.
The processes that are observed are normal. They can range from individual cases to entire groups and communities. Data collection is laborious and time-consuming and may have to be repeated to ensure reliability. However, observation programs based on a set of expectations can facilitate data collection.
The level of observer participation can range from participant to non-participant. The non-participating observer has limited interaction with the observed persons.
Observers can collect data through field notes, video or audio recordings, which can be analyzed using qualitative analysis tools. If observations are coded to obtain accurate numerical data, they can be analyzed using a quantitative approach.
One of the main advantages of using an observation is that it can lead to a good relationship with the participants, which encourages them to speak freely. This contributes to the richness of detail in the data collected.
The focus groups method is a qualitative data collection method. It is a group interview technique, a neutral moderator, whose objective is to collect information on a limited number of predefined questions.
Carrying out focus groups requires respect for certain methodological standards to guarantee validity and scientific character.
It is one of the instruments to collect information that allows exploring and stimulating different points of view, thanks to the meeting of various personalities that favor the expression and debate of opinions.
Online communities are a promising object of study for marketing. The creation of links between individuals and the search for social interactions are greatly facilitated by the Internet.
The study of these communities is appreciated from an essentially qualitative angle, which goes from the content analysis of the virtual discussion groups to netnography or ethnography applied to the Internet.
Online communities are one of the instruments to collect more complete information, because in the same space you can do both surveys or polls, such as focus groups, have an idea generation board, reward participants for their feedback, and more