Roll up your sleeves and let’s get ready to COLLECT DATA!
In today’s write-up, which is our final in the series of thesis writing, we give you a few tips on how to successfully sail through the data collection process of your work especially if you have to do it yourself.
The lack of relevant data, having poor data and delay in the data collection process can jeopardize the whole research process.
The process starts from obtaining the necessary permission to go out by your school, approval from the organization you want to collect data from amongst others. Some researchers, especially Ph.D. candidates, employ the help of research assistants to help ease the burden of the data collection process which comes with its own challenges.
Here are 8 tips to help you wrap up that data collection process:
- Psych Yourself Up: Know first of all that the process will not be a fun fair per se but one of hard work and persistence. Some of the challenges will include not receiving positive responses from organizations, missing questionnaires, delays in filling questionnaires etc. Some researchers tend to give up easily because of some of these challenges. Psyching yourself up will help you remain mentally strong to finish successfully.
- Have a clear plan: Your plan should include timelines and places to visit as well as the telephone calls to make. The planning process will also need some record keeping to note what has been done; how many questionnaires have been received; organizations left to be contacted amongst others. Your plan should also include combining your trips to organizations situated in the same area. This will help reduce the cost of commuting to collect data. Have a clear strategy and plan.
- Start small: The data collection process can look so daunting and unending that many researchers tend to postpone the process till they realize they have little time to finish. If for instance, you have to send out 300 questionnaires to 10 organizations, that is a huge job and can easily discourage or make you procrastinate starting the process. The key is to break the work down and plan to do it in small bits.
- Use the “who you know” approach: One of the difficulties in the collection process is gaining access to the selected organization/s of the research. What we term as the ‘who you know approach’, even though often seen in the negative light, can be used to your advantage in the collection process. Contact your supervisor, lecturers, coworkers, friends, and family to see if they can help you with contacts of people they know in your chosen organization to help facilitate the process for you. It works!!!
After gaining access to the organization/s, it is also prudent to get a representative in the organization to help coordinate and encourage others to fill the questionnaires as well as help collate the filled ones for you.
- Be flexible: The principle of flexibility can also be of help when things do not go as planned. Be prepared to change your methodology and approach if the need be. Do not be inflexible.
- Keep it simple: One of the things that put respondents off and cause delays in the data collection process is a lengthy questionnaire. As a researcher, you must try as much as possible to keep your questionnaire simple and short. Effective tips are merging questions to reduce the number of questions and reducing the font size and spacing measurements. This is the trick so that it doesn’t look bulky.
- Adopt technology: The positive effect of technology is felt in every sphere of work including research and the data collection process. The use of IT tools like the email, instant messaging etc makes reaching respondents easier without commuting to meet them in a physical location. One helpful tool is the survey monkey which helps with easy online data collection.
- Be ethical/genuine: The last piece of advice we want to leave with you in this write-up is to maintain a high sense of research ethics and genuineness. Due to the pressures and difficulties that come with the data collection, researchers can easily be tempted to forge or ask unqualified persons to fill the research instrument. This act will obviously affect the results of the research. It also dilutes the confidence of your research when you know the results or findings of your research are not a true reflection.
We hope our series was helpful. Unfortunately, this is the last lesson in the series and we will be switching to other writing and grammar lessons in our next post.
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