When doing field assessment, NGOs have the choice of using many Data Collection Methods. Each has the good and the bad, however it all depends on the final outcome required and the project’s success parameters.
In order to help you decide which method will best meet your needs, we’ve listed the top 5 most useful methods in Collecting Data along with the Good and the Bad in each one.
Collecting data by directly observing the subjects without altering their environment.
- Non-responsive sample subjects are not an issue.
- Preparation time and framework requirements are minimal.
- Risk of overlooking the big picture since there’s no direct interaction with the sample subjects.
- Subject can be biased resulting in unreliable data collected.
Questionnaires and Surveys
Collecting data through a designed set of questions. One of the most popular methods.
- Easy to develop, visualize and analyze questionnaires.
- Respondent’s identity is Confidential.
- Cost effective, could be done on a large scale to include a large number of participants.
- Response rates can be low.
- Respondent may lose interest mid survey and some key questions might remain unanswered.
- Risk of misinterpreting some answers since there’s no direct conversation with the sample subjects.
Collecting data by asking open-ended questions through one-on-one interviews.
- The physical presence of an interviewer can give more comfort to the respondent in order to honestly and thoughtfully answer the questions as well as a better understanding of the questions if needed.
- Opportunity to uncover rich and deep insights from the answers.
- Time-consuming and requires a lot of efforts.
- More expensive than other methods.
Collecting data through group discussions where participants are carefully chosen.
- The presence of carefully chosen, relevant people together at the same time can motivate them to participate in healthy detailed discussions which will help researchers uncover unforeseen information.
- Opportunity to instantly validate certain facts and see different perspectives since some answers might be contradicted by other group members.
- Finding relevant people and convincing them to come together at the same time can be very challenging.
- Loud members can crush the opinions of members who are less vocal resulting in hidden insights.
Collecting data through pictures taken by participants. These pictures illustrate their situations and points of view.
- Captures evidence.
- Enables participants to clearly and meaningfully show what matters to them.
- Viewers might misinterpret a picture.
- More expensive than other methods and takes more time.
The observation, interviews, focus groups and photovoice methods are all qualitative methods and thus deal with words and meanings while the questionnaires and surveys method is a quantitative method that involves numbers and statistics. There’s a preferred Data Collection Method for each step of the research process and it also depends on the data you need to collect.