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Methods of Data Collection: Qualitative Research Methods

Data is an invaluable resource used to explain and validate trends in businesses and social institutions. Data can only be valuable if it is accurate, relevant, and timely. This makes the process of collecting data very critical in research. The data collection method highly depends on the subject or nature of the research and the time required. The main objective of any data collection technique is to guarantee that reliable information is collected for analysis to enable effective data-driven decisions. Survey research, field research, secondary analysis, and triangulation are fundamental data collection methods.

Survey research is the most suitable method of data collection to describe police officer perceptions on the effectiveness of wearing body cameras. A survey is mostly used to establish the behavior, characteristics, or opinions of a particular cohort. In this scenario, the survey method is more appropriate than observation, secondary analysis, or triangulation because it is quick and easy. A researcher is only required to draft a set of relevant questions, deliver them to the police officers and obtain relevant responses. Survey-based research is cheap because only a small cost is required to produce the questionnaires (Gaur et al., 2020). This method is also convenient because researchers do not need to move from one place to another when delivering the questionnaires; instead, they may send the questions through fax or email and receive feedback. Thus, it may be more flexible to an investigator and the police respondents.

Field research, secondary analysis, and triangulation may be less applicable in collecting the police officers’ opinions. The observation method is unsuitable because it requires a lengthy time to obtain results, making the process very costly. This approach may also distort information because monitoring from a distance may not give the researcher clear feedback on how the police officers feel or view the efficacy of wearing body cameras. Secondary analysis may not be ideal for this scenario as the existing information may be irrelevant, outdated, or biased. Additionally, the triangulation method may be tedious, costly, and time-consuming. This is because it combines the use of survey, observation, and secondary analysis.

Secondary analysis is ideal when conducting a hot-spot analysis on 911 calls for domestic violence. It involves using information gathered by other people when conducting a new study. In this scenario, secondary-based analysis is more efficient than the use of survey, observation, or triangulation because it is quick and provides reliable information (Niraula, 2019). It may involve evaluating the information on the 911 database to identify the hot-spot for domestic violence. The data on the 911 database has already been sorted and categorized; thus, it is easy to locate the origin of most 911 domestic violence calls. Therefore, a researcher only requires authorization to access the database and retrieve the necessary data. This approach is also time-saving since the information can be acquired from one source. It is also less costly than observation, survey or triangulation because, upon authorization, the data is obtained for free.

The use of survey, observation, and triangulation may be less suitable in pinpointing a hot-spot for 911 domestic violence calls. A survey may be time-consuming and tiresome because a researcher may need to distribute questionnaires to almost all 911 call-takers in a region or country to get information. The data collected through the survey may also be inaccurate because some call-takers may be biased or forgetful. Observation may be invalid in this scenario because watching and monitoring the 911 call-taker’s behaviors may not offer the relevant information. In this scenario, the triangulation approach may produce inconclusive results because some methods are not applicable. Hence, secondary-based analysis saves time cost, and the information is more likely to be accurate.

Triangulation is the most effective method of data collection in describing the prevalence of stalking in a small Midwest City. A combination of survey, observation, and use of existing data is ideal in providing valid and conclusive information in this scenario (Fusch et al., 2018). The use of surveys may provide critical data regarding the subject matter. Due to its small size, a researcher can easily distribute questionnaires on the topic, whether physically or through emails, and get relevant feedback. In this scenario, the observation method may be appropriate in studying the residents’ behaviors to detect any signs of stalking. A researcher may also engage in participant observation and interview the residents to get more in-depth information. In addition, the secondary analysis approach may also be vital in providing evidence about the commonness of stalking in the region. The researcher may request information from the relevant authorities like the police to determine the magnitude of the stalking in the city. Thus, combining surveys, observation, and existing data may significantly help determine the incidence of stalking in the city.

However, the independent use of either survey, observation, or secondary analysis may provide unreliable information. In this case, data collected using a survey may be inaccurate or biased. There is a possible distortion of information associated with the observation approach as a researcher may misinterpret behaviors exhibited by the target group. Regarding the use of existing data, the information obtained may be biased or outdated resulting in wrong conclusions. Therefore, the triangulation method improves the validity and credibility of the data collected.

Field research is the most appropriate data collection method to describe the nature and scope of prostitution at truck stops along I-95. This method is more suitable in this scenario because it involves monitoring the target group for a considerable time to acquire accurate and authentic information. In this case, this technique may also allow a researcher to interact with the target group, ask questions, and take pictures or notes to help with the study (Busetto et al., 2020). Therefore, this process may allow a researcher to collect first-hand and unbiased information to help understand the occurrence and extent of prostitution at the truck stops along I-95.

Conversely, a survey or secondary analysis may not be ideal in this scenario. Data collected through the survey method may be biased or incorrect resulting in wrong conclusions. This is because the respondents may not always be truthful when giving feedback. The use of existing data may also provide inaccurate data because the information obtained may be outdated. In addition, the use of the triangulation method may be time-intensive and tedious as it involves adopting the use of surveys, existing data, and observation. Thus, the observation approach may enable a researcher to learn about the actual behavior of the prostitutes working at the truck stops along 1-95 as opposed to opinions or reported behaviors.

In conclusion, the methods of data collection are fundamental in the research process. The choice of data collection methods depends on the nature of the research, cost, and the time required for each. Survey research, field research, and secondary analysis are common data collection methods. Each technique is unique in its own way and may not apply to all situations. In some cases, a researcher may combine more than one data collection approach to increase the credibility of the information. An effective data collection method provides precise information which guarantees well-founded conclusions.


Busetto, L., Wick, W., & Gumbinger, C. (2020). How to use and assess qualitative research methods. Neurological Research and Practice, 2(1). Web.

Fusch, P., Fusch, G., & Ness, L. (2018). Denzin’s paradigm shift: Revisiting triangulation in qualitative research. Journal of Social Change, 10(1). Web.

Gaur, P., Zimba, O., Agarwal, V., & Gupta, L. (2020). Reporting survey based studies: A primer for authors. Journal of Korean Medical Science, 35(45). Web.

Niraula, S. R. (2019). A review of research process, data collection and analysis. Insights in Biology and Medicine, 3(1), 001-006. Web.


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