Good data is essential for making good decisions.
To obtain accurate and useful data, you need the right tools, as well as reliable and appropriate collection methods.
What is field data collection?
Field data collection aims to gather information that makes it possible to assess the state of a situation in the field.
A proper data collection process is very helpful in identifying problems in the field and implementing the right solutions to resolve them.
Different types of data
Before talking about data collection methods, we need to look at two types of data:
- Qualitative data
- Quantitative data
Before you start collecting data, you need to first determine whether you want (or need) to collect qualitative, quantitative, or mixed data.
Collection of quantitative vs qualitative data
Quantitative data collection aims to collect numerical data (quantities and types, etc.).
Qualitative research, on the other hand, is generally used to obtain opinions on certain subjects, or provide further clarification through open-ended questions.
The first step in the quantitative research process is to determine your sampling method.
Quantitative data should represent well-defined events such as a counting method, questions with answer choices and yes/no questions etc.
Qualitative data is often used in exploratory research to understand dormant reasons, opinions, and motivations in given situations. It also provides detailed information about specific problems. Qualitative data collection methods examine the reasons for making specific decisions.
There is no one “best” method of collecting data.
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Your choice will depend on the type of data you need to collect (i.e. qualitative data or quantitative data) and the advantages as well as disadvantages of each method relative to your purpose and analysis.
Methods of data collection
Qualitative research methods
Through in-depth interviews, you can retrieve as much information as possible by asking people to answer open-ended questions.
Face-to-face interviews can be long and expensive, but they have a very high response rate.
With face-to-face interviews, you can establish rapport with respondents and have the opportunity to clarify their answers.
Experts can carry out advanced observations and provide comments by means of which they can share their expertise. This can be useful when assessing the information gathered.
Quantitative research methods
Surveys with closed questions
Survey questions can be conducted by means of survey questionnaires.
The questionnaires themselves should be structured and standardized in order to make it easy for people to answer them and minimize the chances of inaccurate or useless data being collected.
Tests or experiments
Another way in which quantitative data can be collected is by means of measuring the number of people who passed a test or answered a question (or set of questions) correctly.
When conducting tests or experiments, it is important to make sure that you write down all the information, such as age, job category, level of education, etc., about who is taking the test.
Conducting online polls is another method that can be effective when gathering data. Polls can be conducted online, over the phone or in person. Telephone surveys are cost effective and take less time than face to face interviews. However, the response rate of telephone polls is lower.
Online surveys are inexpensive and can be sent to large numbers of people. Although it is impossible to have the answers clarified, this is not a problem if quantitative data is desired.
Observing, counting, and recording well-defined events
This is a straightforward method that can be used when the numbers of certain events or items need to be determined.
For example, counting the number of vehicles on a road can be a sufficiently accurate way to collect this type of data.
Data collection Tools
Field data can and is collected in a number of different ways.
Paper questionnaires are a traditional means of data collection.
Although this method is still quite common despite the fact that powerful technology and apps, such as Coral Collect, are very accessible to companies today, it is quickly disappearing.
The reason for the decline in popularity of this method is that the response rate, as well as accuracy of data collected by means of paper questionnaires, is much lower than with apps, which generally have mandatory response fields.
Another medium is Internet questionnaires / online surveys, which are cheaper and faster than paper questionnaires.
The problem with this method is that it can only be conducted on people who have access to computers and the Internet. Nevertheless, online surveys are a great way to reach and engage with your target audience as they increase response rates quickly. With online questionnaires, you can generate real-time results for quick and easy analysis.
Mobile app data collection
Finally, another medium is mobile data collection applications.
With mobile data collection apps, you spend less time collecting and entering data, errors are drastically reduced, and you can collect rich data types such as photos, videos, GPS coordinates, etc.
Today, mobile apps are an increasingly popular means of data collection because they offer innovative ways to collect and manage data. Mobile surveys are also easy to administer and more versatile than online surveys, as they allow respondents to send photos, record their voices or take notes using their smartphones.
In today’s increasingly competitive world of digital data collection, instantaneous data transfer and cloud computing, it is essential that you have access to the best technology and methods available on the market.
It’s up to you to choose the right type of data, the right methods and ultimately the right means of data collection, depending on the objectives you are pursuing.
Coral Collect is the leader when it comes to mobile field data collection apps. The app comes with the following features:
- Easy digital form creation with the Coral Collect online form builder
- The ability to fill out forms in the field on your Android and iOS device.
- A comprehensive data overview via the simple and easy-to-use dashboard
- The ability to export data in different formats, including PDF
Get Coral Collect now!