Data Collection: Definition, Types and Methods - Embibe
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  • Written By Priya_Singh
  • Last Modified 17-05-2022
  • Written By Priya_Singh
  • Last Modified 17-05-2022

Data Collection: Important Methods

Data Collection: Data represents information collected in the form of numbers and text. Data Collection is generally done after the experiment or observation. Primary data and Secondary data is helpful in planning and estimating. Data collection is either qualitative or quantitative.

Types of data collection methods are used in businesses and sales organisations to analyse the outcome of a problem, arrive at a solution, and understand a company’s performance. Furthermore, there are two types of data collection methods namely, Primary data collection methods, and secondary data collection methods. In this article, we will provide you with collection of data in statistics, source of data collection and data collection in research methodology.

Data and Types of Data

Collecting the information from the numerical fact after observation is known as raw data. There are two types of data. Below we have provided the types of data: Primary Data and Secondary Data.

Data Collection

Primary Data and Secondary Data

1. Primary Data

When an investigator collects data himself with a definite plan or design in his/her way, then the data is known as primary data. Generally, the results derived from the primary data are accurate as the researcher gathers the information. But, one of the disadvantages of primary data collection is the expenses associated with it. Primary data research is very time-consuming and expensive.

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2. Secondary Data

Data that the investigator does not initially collect but instead obtains from published or unpublished sources are secondary data. Secondary data is collected by an individual or an institution for some purpose and are used by someone else in another context. It is worth noting that although secondary data is cheaper to obtain, it raises concerns about accuracy. As the data is second-hand, one cannot fully rely on the information to be authentic.

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Data Collection Methods

Data collection is defined as collecting and analyzing data to validate and research using some techniques. It is done to diagnose a problem and learn its outcome and future trends. When there is a need to solve a question, data collection methods help assume the future result.

We must collect reliable data from the correct sources to make the calculations and analysis easier. There are two types of data collection methods. This is dependent on the kind of data that is being collected. They are:

  1. Primary Data Collection Methods
  2. Secondary Data Collection Methods
Data Collection Method

Types of Data Collection

Students require primary or secondary data while doing their research. Both primary and secondary data have their own advantages and disadvantages. Both the methods come into the picture in different scenarios. One can use secondary data to save time and primary data to get accurate results.

A) Primary Data Collection Method

Primary or raw data is obtained directly from the first-hand source through experiments, surveys, or observations. The primary data collection method is further classified into two types, and they are given below:

  1. Quantitative Data Collection Methods
  2. Qualitative Data Collection Methods
1. Quantitative Data Collection Methods

The term ‘Quantity’ tells us a specific number. Quantitative data collection methods express the data in numbers using traditional or online data collection methods. Once this data is collected, the results can be calculated using Statistical methods and Mathematical tools. Some of the quantitative data collection methods include Probability Sampling, Surveys and Conducting Interviews.

2. Qualitative Data Collection Methods

The qualitative method does not involve any mathematical calculations. This method is closely connected with elements that are not quantifiable. The qualitative data collection method includes several ways to collect this type of data, and they are given below:

1) Interview Method: As the name suggests, data collection is done by the verbal conversation of interviewing the people in person or on a telephone or by using any computer-aided model. This is one of the most often used methods by researchers. A brief description of each of these methods is shown below:
i) Personal or Face to Face Interview: In this type of interview,  questions are asked personally directly to the respondent. For this, a researcher can do online surveys to take note of the answers.
ii) Telephonic Interview: This method is done by asking the questions on a telephonic call. Data is collected from the people directly by collecting their views or opinions.
iii) Computer-Assisted Interview: The computer-assisted type of interview is the same as a personal interview, except that the interviewer and the person being interviewed will be doing it on a desktop or laptop. Also, the data collected is directly updated in a database to make the process quicker and easier. In addition, it eliminates a lot of paperwork to be done in updating the collection of data.

2) Questionnaire Method of Collecting Data: The questionnaire method is nothing but conducting surveys with a set of quantitative research questions. These survey questions are done by using online survey questions creation software. It also ensures that the people’s trust in the surveys is legitimised. Some types of questionnaire methods are given below:

i) Web-Based Questionnaire: The interviewer can send a survey link to the selected respondents. Then the respondents click on the link, which takes them to the survey questionnaire. This method is very cost-efficient and quick, which people can do at their own convenient time. Moreover, the survey has the flexibility of doing in any device also. So it is reliable and flexible.
ii) Mail Based Questionnaire: Questionnaires are sent to the selected audience via email. At times, some incentives are also given to complete this survey which is the main attraction. The advantage of this method is that the respondent’s name remains confidential to the researchers, and there is the flexibility of time to complete this survey.

3) Observation Method: As the word ‘observation’ suggests, data is collected directly by observing this method. This can be obtained by counting the number of people or the number of events in a particular time frame. Generally, it’s effective in small-scale scenarios. The primary skill needed here is observing and arriving at the numbers correctly. Structured observation is the type of observation method in which a researcher detects certain specific behaviours.

4) Document Review Method: The document review method is a data aggregation method used to collect data from existing documents with data about the past. There are two types of documents from which we can collect data.  They are given below:
i) Public Records: The data collected in an organisation like annual reports and sales information of the past months are used to do future analysis. 
ii) Personal Records: As the name suggests, the documents about an individual such as type of job, their designation, their interests are taken into account.

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B) Secondary Data Collection Method

The data collected by another person other than the researcher is secondary data. Secondary data is readily available and does not require any particular collection methods. It is available in the form of historical archives, government data, organizational records etc. This data can be obtained directly from the company or the organization where the research is being organized or from outside sources.

The internal sources of secondary data gathering include company documents, financial statements, annual reports, team member information, reports got from customers or dealers. Now, the external data sources include information from books, journals, magazines, the census taken by the government, and the information available on the internet about research. The leading edge of this data aggregation method is that it is easy to collect since they are readily available.

Collection of Data in Statistics

There are various ways to represent data after gathering. But, the most popular method is to tabulate the data using tally marks and then represent them in a frequency distribution table. The frequency distribution table is constructed by using the tally marks. Tally marks are a form of a numerical system used for counting. The vertical lines are used for the counting. The cross line is placed over the four lines gives the total \(5\).

Tabulation of Collected Data

Practice Exam Questions

Consider a jar containing the different colours of pieces of bread as shown below:

Example of Data Collection

Construct a frequency distribution table for the above-mentioned data.


Frequency Distribution Table

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Solved Examples on Data Collection

Q.1. Identify the method you will use for the data aggregation of the given scenario: To know the preferred brand of clothing of a particular age group.
 To know the selected clothing brand for a specific age group, the method used will be a primary data aggregation method such as a questionnaire survey. You need to know the preference of every individual member of the group.

Q.2. Identify the method you will use for the data collection of the given scenario: To know the average rainfall recorded in a year.
 To know the average rainfall recorded in the year, you will use the secondary data gathering method by looking through the reports showing the rain statistics recorded in previous years.

Q.3. Identify the type of method for data gathering (Qualitative or Quantitative) used for the given scenario: How well would you recommend the institution to another person for taking up the course?
 You have to use the qualitative data aggregation method as you will have to analyze the institute’s reach, the fee to be paid, and the quality of education you have received. Any of the survey methods can only decide these factors.

Q.4. Identify the type of method for data gathering (Qualitative or Quantitative) used for the given scenario: To know the number of people who attended the training.
  In this case, you will use the quantitative data aggregation method. You will have to count by any personal contact method to know how many people have attended the training course.

Q.5. The given list is the list of ages of people working in a company. Identify the mean median and mode for the set of data provided below.\({\rm{Age = }}\left\{ {{\rm{30,31,32,32,35,30,33,38,40}}} \right\}\)
 \({\rm{Mean = }}\frac{{{\rm{ Sum of all observations }}}}{{{\rm{ Total number of observations }}}}\)

\( = \frac{{30 + 31 + 32 + 32 + 35 + 30 + 33 + 38 + 40}}{9}\)

\( = \frac{{301}}{9} = 33.4\)

To find the median, you have to arrange the data items in ascending order.

\({ 30,30,31,32,32,33,35,38,40} \)

Here, you can see the number \(32\) is the middlemost value which means \(32\) is the median.

You know that mode is the regularly occurring data item in a list.

Hence, the required answer is \(30\) and \(32\).

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FAQs on Data Collection

The frequently asked questions on data aggregation are given below:

Q.1: What is data collection?
A: Data collection is the process of collecting the information which is needed for the research or the analysis. It can be obtained from primary or secondary sources, and data can be numerical or behaviural.

Q.2: What are the three methods of gathering data?
A: You can choose the perfect group or sample for the research and create a specific environment to collect the required data. The three main ways of collecting primary data are asking, observing and experimenting with this selected group.

Q.3: What are the four types of data collection?
A: The four methods of data collection are given below:
1. Observation
2. Questionnaires
3. Interviews
4. Focus Group Discussions

Q.4: What are data gathering examples?
A: The examples of data gathering are written below:
1. Interviews
2. Questionnaires and surveys
3. Observations
4. Documents and records
5. Focus groups
6. Oral histories

Q.5: What is data collection and types?
A: The term Data collection defines gathering quantitative and qualitative information on the specific variables to evaluate the outcomes or obtain practical awareness.
The types of data collection are given below:
1. Primary data collection
2. Secondary data collection

Now that we have provided all the necessary information on Data Gathering. Students can practice all the questions on this topic and have a firm grasp of data aggregation. Students can refer to the NCERT Solutions for Maths provided by Embibe to score good marks in their exams.

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We hope this detailed article on Data Gathering helps you in your preparation. If you get stuck do let us know in the comments section below and we will get back to you at the earliest.


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