Data Collection: An Easy Guide in Just 3 Points


Data collection is the method of gathering and then measuring the information as per the variable that is of interest. This is done in an established and in a systematic way that lets one answer the researched stated questions, evaluate the outcomes, and do the test hypothesis. The data collection method of research is common in every study including business, humanities, and social science. The method may differ as per the discipline but the emphasis is always to ensure honest and accurate information and analysis.

  1. Definition
  2. Methods
  3. Examples

1) Definition

Data collection can be defined as the method of collecting and measuring as well as analyzing the data to get an accurate insight for the basis of research and to use for the statistical techniques. The researcher will evaluate the hypothesis on the basis of the data that is collected.

In most cases, the collection of data is the primary and also the most crucial step of research. This is irrelevant to the field. The data collection approach is different as per the field of study depending on the kind of information that is needed. The main objective of the data collection is to ensure that the information that is obtained is rich and reliable. This data is used to do statistical analysis and the decisions that are derived as per the data are then used in research.

2) Methods

The methods of data collection are broadly of four kinds. These sources of data collection could be in-person interviews, by mail, online, and on phone. Every method of data collection has its own pros and cons.

  • In-Person Interviews

The benefits of the in-person interview are that it offers a high degree of confidence in the data. The con of this method is that it is expensive, time-consuming, and also may be dismissed as anecdotal. An in-person interview is one of the best ways of data collection. However, the biggest drawback of this method is that it could make you fall into a trap of it is not done regularly. It is expensive to conduct many interviews and if you do not conduct sufficient of them then you fail to get the right idea. 

  • Mail Surveys

The main benefit of the mail survey is that it can easily reach anyone and everyone without any barrier. The con of this method is that it is expensive, there is a lag time and there could be errors in data collection.

  • Phone Surveys

Phone surreys offer a high level of confidence in the data that is collected and it can reach anyone. The con of this method is that this method of data collection is expensive and it cannot be self-administered so you need to hire an agency for the same.

  • Web/Online Surveys

Online surveys and web surveys are cheap, can be self-administered, and also have a very low probability of data error. The con of this method is that not all your clients may be having an email address or an internet connection and the customer could also be hesitant to divulge the information through an online mode.

  • Multi-Mode Surveys

This is where the survey is done and data is collected through different modes like phone, paper, and online. The method is easy and straightforward.

Not just conducting the interview you also need to know how to validate and design it whatever be the methods of collecting data. You may notice that even after the research is done and if the result fails to match with the gut feeling it gets dismissed off as a one-time thing. In order to avoid getting into this trap, it is important to do data collection on a regular and ongoing basis. This helps to compare and to analyze the changes in the perception according to the marketing that you do or your services and products.

The other change is in the sample size. You need to be confident about your research and you also need to interview the right people to leave out any fringe elements.

Some years back there was a discussion on the online survey and its statistical validity. Also since people did not have access to internet connection it gave rise to another concern. Some of these discussions are valid but thankfully because of the internet as a means of communication it has made customer interaction, collecting data, and analyzing it more effective.

3) Examples

Data collection is an important research method. Like in the case of a company that manufactures mobiles, suppose that the company is launching a new variant of the product. The company has to conduct research on the price range, its features the target market and also has to carry an analysis of its competitors. It is thus important that the company gets data only from reliable sources. The marketing team could conduct many activities of data collection like focus groups and online surveys.

It is important that the survey covers all the questions that are appropriate about the pricing and the features. To conduct a focus group the marketing team should be aware of getting the right market participant as well as the right mediator. It is also important to be clear about the discussion topic and the objective of a focused group for a conclusive decision.

Depending on the resources available the data collection methods are chosen. Like for example to conduct surveys and questionnaires you would need the least resources and in the case of a focus group the resources should be moderately high.


Feedback is crucial for the growth of an organization. Whether you wish to conduct a focus group or get information from the top players the idea of data collection and online research is to find out through your customer’s eyes how you are performing and what you can do better. Online surveys are a method of collecting data and feedback from your employees, customers, or anyone who basically interacts with your business in some manner. Today with many data collection tools available on the internet data collection has become high cheap, easy, and effective.

If you are interested in making it big in the world of data and evolve as a Future Leader, you may consider our Integrated Program in Business Analytics, a 10-month online program, in collaboration with IIM Indore!


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