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Data Collection Techniques

Qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques in research play a


central role in reaching a conclusion. This article will tell you more about
quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques in statistics and other
fields of research.

Research is widely used by


professionals in almost all sectors of
the industry; be it business,
manufacturing, medical, education,
etc. To carry out a thorough research,
you need to follow some essential steps with regards to the collection of
data. And when it come to research as a whole, data collection techniques
are important aspects to be considered. Data collection is a method in which
information related to the study is gathered by suitable mediums. Before
moving on to data collection techniques in research, let us first take a look at
the type of data.

Types of Data in Research

The types of data are basically classified on the basis of their collection
methods and their characteristics. Primary data is that which is collected first
hand by the researcher himself, without relying on any kind of pre-
researched information. Common primary data collection techniques are
interviews and questionnaires. On the other hand, secondary data is that
which is collected from other means, instead of the researcher's. Few
examples of secondary data include government census and company
surveys.
Data classification in also made on the basis of attributes of the data; namely
qualitative and quantitative. The difference between qualitative and
quantitative research is that the former one relates to data that is
descriptive in nature and does not involve numbers and statistics. Whereas,
the latter is the data which is numerical and has a lot to do with numbers
and figures. A good researcher will always back up qualitative data with
quantitative data. Now let us take a look at the data collection techniques
used. Read more on methods of qualitative research.

Data Collection Techniques in Research

Personal Interviews: Conducting personal interviews is probably the best


method of data collection to gain first hand information. It is however,
unsuitable in cases where there are many people to be interviewed and
questioned.

Questionnaires: Questionnaires are good methods of data collection when


there is a need for a particular class of people to be questioned. The
researcher can prepare a questionnaire according to the data he requires
and send it to the responders.

Detailed Observation: Data can also most effectively be obtained with


means of observational skills. The researcher can visit a place and take down
details of all that he observes which is actually required for aiding in his
research. Here, the researcher has to make sure that what he is observing is
real.

Group Discussions: Group discussions are good data collection techniques


where the researcher has to know what the people in a group think. He can
come to a conclusion based on the group discussion which may even involve
good debate topics of research.

Internet Data: The Internet is an ocean of data, where you can get a
substantial amount of information for research. However, researchers need
to remember that they should depend on reliable sources on the web for
accurate information.
Books and Guides: These data collection techniques are the most
traditional ones that are still used in today's research. Unlike the Internet, it
is sure that you will get good and accurate information from books and
published guides.

Using Experiments: Sometimes, for obtaining the full understanding of the


scenario, researchers have to conduct actual experiments on the field.
Research experiments are usually carried out in fields such as science and
manufacturing. This is the best method for gaining an in-depth
understanding of the subject related to the research.

These are just a few data collection techniques used in researches. There are
many other methods of data collection which may help the researcher to
draw statistical as well as conceptual conclusions. For obtaining accurate and
dependable data, researchers are suggested to combine two or more of the
above mentioned data collection techniques.

By Stephen Rampur

Published: 7/7/2010
SAMPLING ERROR IN RESEARCH
Sampling error is the deviation of the selected sample from the true
characteristics, traits, behaviors, qualities or figures of the entire population.

by Joan Joseph Castillo (2009)

WHY DOES THIS ERROR OCCUR?


Sampling process error occurs because researchers draw different subjects from the same
population but still, the subjects have individual differences. Keep in mind that when you
take a sample, it is only a subset of the entire population; therefore, there may be a
difference between the sample and population.

The most frequent cause of the said error is a biased sampling procedure. Every researcher
must seek to establish a sample that is free from bias and is representative of the entire
population. In this case, the researcher is able to minimize or eliminate sampling error.

Another possible cause of this error is chance. The process of randomization and probability
sampling is done to minimize sampling process error but it is still possible that all the
randomized subjects are not representative of the population.

The most common result of sampling error is systematic error wherein the results from the
sample differ significantly from the results from the entire population. It follows logic that if
the sample is not representative of the entire population, the results from it will most likely
differ from the results taken from the entire population.
SAMPLE SIZE AND SAMPLING ERROR
Given two exactly the same studies, same sampling methods, same population, the study
with a larger sample size will have less sampling process error compared to the study with
smaller sample size. Keep in mind that as the sample size increases, it approaches the size
of the entire population, therefore, it also approaches all the characteristics of the
population, thus, decreasing sampling process error.

STANDARD DEVIATION AND SAMPLING ERROR


Standard deviation is used to express the variability of the population. More technically, it is
the average difference of all the actual scores of the subjects from the mean or average of
all the scores. Therefore, if the sample has high standard deviation, it follows that sample
also has high sampling process error.

It will be easier to understand this if you will relate standard deviation with sample size.
Keep in mind that as the sample size increases, the standard deviation decreases.

Imagine having only 10 subjects, with this very little sample size, the tendency of their
results is to vary greatly, thus a high standard deviation. Then, imagine increasing the
sample size to 100, the tendency of their scores is to cluster, thus a low standard deviation.

WAYS TO ELIMINATE SAMPLING ERROR


There is only one way to eliminate this error. This solution is to eliminate the concept of
sample, and to test the entire population.

In most cases this is not possible; consequently, what a researcher must to do is to minimize
sampling process error. This can be achieved by a proper and unbiased probability sampling
and by using a large sample size.

Report Spelling or Grammar Errors

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WHAT IS
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SAMPLING?
In many experiments, sampling an entire population as part of a research
experiment is impossible, due to the time, expense and sheer number of subjects.

by Martyn Shuttleworth (2009)

What is Sampling? Imagine, for example, an experiment to test the effects of a new
education technique on schoolchildren. It would be impossible to select the entire school age
population of a country, divide them into groups and perform research.

A research group sampling the diversity of flowers in the African savannah could not count
every single flower, because it would take many years.

This is where statistical sampling comes in, the idea of trying to take a representative
section of the population, perform the experiment and extrapolate it back to the population
as a whole.
In the education example, the research group could test all of the schools in a city, or select
one school in a few different cities. Of course, the process is not that easy, and the
researchers must use a battery of statistical techniques, and a good research design, to
ensure that this subset is as representative as possible.

Failure to take into account all of the various experimental biases and errors that can creep
into an experiment, if the sample group is chosen poorly, will inevitably lead to invalid
results.
The basic question that a researcher should be asking when selecting a sample group is:

How many subjects will I need to complete a viable study, and how will I select them?

THE ADVANTAGES OF SAMPLING


• It involves a smaller amount of subjects, which reduces investment in time and
money.
• Sampling can actually be more accurate than studying an entire population, because
it affords researchers a lot more control over the subjects. Large studies can bury
interesting correlations amongst the ‘noise.’
• Statistical manipulations are much easier with smaller data sets, and it is easier to
avoid human error when inputting and analyzing the data.

THE DISADVANTAGES OF SAMPLING


• There is room for potential bias in the selection of suitable subjects for the research.
This may be because the researcher selects subjects that are more likely to give the
desired results, or that the subjects tend to select themselves.

For example, if an opinion poll company canvasses opinion by phoning people


between 9am and 5pm, they are going to miss most people who are out working,
totally invalidating their results. These are called determining factors, and also
include poor experiment design, confounding variables and human error.

• Sampling requires a knowledge of statistics, and the entire design of the


experiment depends upon the exact sampling method required.

SELECTING SAMPLE GROUPS AND


EXTRAPOLATING RESULTS
When sampling, a researcher has two distinct choices:

1. Ideally, they will take a representative sample of the whole population and
use randomization techniques to establish sample groups and controls.
2. In many cases, this is not always possible, and the make-up of the groups has to be
assigned.

For example, a study that needs to ask for volunteers is never representative of a
population. In such cases, the researcher needs to be aware that they
cannot extrapolate the findings to represent an entire population.

A study into heart disease that only looks at middle aged men, between 40 and 60, will say
very little about heart disease in women or younger men, although it can always be a basis
for future research involving other groups.

However robust the research design, there is always an inherent inaccuracy with any
sample-based experiment, due to chance fluctuations and natural variety. Most statistical
tests take this into account, and this is why results are judged to a significance level, or
given a margin of error.
Sampling is an essential part of most research, and researchers must know how to choose
sample groups that are as free from bias as possible, and also be aware of the extent to
which they can extrapolate their results back to the general population.

Read more: http://www.experiment-resources.com/what-is-sampling.html#ixzz1J3DsPnf2

Unit 1 - Managerial Decision Making + Research Design, Part 1

Discussion Board

January 10, 2008

The decision to engage in radio advertising by airing a jingle during peak listening hours
of a top local radio station for one month straight resulted to an increase in customers coming
into the establishment and in revenue derived by the firm for the last two weeks of the
advertising period and the next month after the advertising venture. The decision is a success
relative to the achievement of the pre-determined objectives for engagement in radio
advertising.

Using the six steps for self-analysis of decisions (Bazerman, 2006), the problem that
spurred the decision to engage in radio advertising is the progressive decline in the number of
customers of the business firm and the decrease in the revenue generated by the firm, within
the six-month period after the entry of a competitor in the immediate vicinity or market. The
decline in customers and revenue finds attribution to the entry of a competitor, closely
resembling the business structure and operations of the firm and located near the firm’s
distribution establishment. The promotional activity of the competitor was to offer their products
at an introductory price that is less than the price of counterpart products of the firm. Faced with
the presence of a business threat the firm needed to devise a means of taking the attention of
customers from the competitor back to the firm. The criteria for determining the means of
drawing the attention of customers back to the firm, according to rating are 1) cost optimization,
2) customer base expansion and retention, 3) enhancing brand equity, and 4) establishing
company values. These criteria represent the factors that the firm needs to focus on in order to
gain an upper hand over the new competitor and secure the competitiveness of the firm despite
other new entrants. In weighing these criteria according to importance in addressing the
problem of decreasing customers and concurrent decline in revenue generation, the most
important criterion is cost optimization, which represents venturing into activities to achieve the
greatest possible result at the least possible cost (Porter, 1998). The next and closely important
criterion is the expansion and retention of customers by maintaining consistency in the value of
products and services so that customers continue purchasing from the firm even though there
are other firms offering similar commodities at a lesser price (Ries and Trout, 1997). Enhancing
brand equity and establishing company value also constitute important criteria that have
something to do with creating a positive impression and reputation of brand and the company by
consistently providing customers with quality products and services (Porter, 1998). These
criteria generated a number of alternatives, according to rating including 1) advertising, 2) price
reduction, 3) menu revamp. These options constituted the top three alternative solutions to the
problem on declining customers and revenue. Rating the three alternatives using the
criteria shows that price reduction would definitely increase the number of customers but this is
not sustainable as this could create a price war or strain the finances of the firm when revenues
generated are not within the expected level. Menu revamp involves the greatest cost from
product development and testing, this could even affect brand equity and company reputation,
and there is no certainty that this would draw and retain customers. Advertising also involves
costs but developing a carefully designed advertisement could create effective communication
links to customers that justifies the cost and the effect could also be long-term. Calculating the
optimal decision shows advertising as the most optimal solution by having the least value. Since
the weighing of the alternatives occurs with 1 as highest weight, the alternative with the least
value constitutes the optimal decision calculation.

Cost Market Brand Value Optimal Decision


Optimization Expansion/Retention Equity Calculation
Weight

Advertising 1 1 2 3 4 10

Price 2 1 2 3 4 20
Reduction

Menu 3 1 2 3 4 30
Revamp

A calculation of the optimal decision shows that there is no discrepancy between the favoured
decision and the calculated optimal decision, which supports the option to engage in advertising
as the best solution. However, some problems were encountered in completing the six steps,
particularly the weighing of the criteria since the selected criteria all constituted important
considerations in the decision-making process. This means that if it is possible not to rate, all
these criteria will be equally considered in making the decision. The rational model of decision-
making requires prioritization but there are instances when a number of objectives need
completion simultaneously. The only reason that an optimal decision calculation was derived
was because of the distinct variances in the implication of the different alternatives resulting to
the ease in determining the effectiveness ranking of these alternatives. In instances when the
alternatives have similar implications, it would not have been that easy to rate the alternatives.

Although the rational model of decision-making effectively works in some instances, this
also have limitations so that decision-making should be based on a number of models
depending upon the needs context of business firms.

Reference List

Bazerman, M. H. (2006). Judgment in managerial decision making (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons,

Inc.
Porter, M. E. (1998). Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. New York: Free

Press.

Ries, A., & Trout, J. (1997). Marketing Warfare. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Unit 1 - Managerial Decision Making + Research Design, Part 1

Individual Project – Preliminary Research Design

January 10, 2008

Proposal for Juicy Red Tomato Company

Introduction

The research design constitutes an important aspect of the research process because
this provides a framework for the completion of the research investigation. The research design
captures the problem and objectives of the research process and provides a guide to direct the
research activities towards the identification of solutions to the problem and the achievement of
the pre-determined objectives (Creswell, 2002). In the case of the research process for Juicy
Red Tomato Company, the determination of the research design appropriate to the investigation
constitutes the core aspect of the proposal. The research design determined for application to
the case of the company adheres to the research process by Sekaran (2003).

Problem Definition

Juicy Red Tomato Company has maintained progressive growth at an annual rate of 5
percent in the first decade of operation by keeping control of costs. However, the firm started to
experience increases in internal costs in the previous three years that affected the continued
growth of the firm. Reasons for the increase in internal costs fall under the two categories of
natural causes and labour-related causes.

Natural causes include sudden temperature drops and pests. Although these constitute
expected risks in growing tomatoes, the occurrence of these causes is largely beyond the
control of the company. As such, these are natural hazards in the industry requiring whatever
due preparatory actions exists such as planning the planting and harvesting seasons to keep
tabs of the periods when temperature drops or rises. In the case of the sudden and unexpected
drops in temperature and pest infestation during unexpected periods, the company has no other
option but to assess its losses and develop a strategy that enables the firm to experience the
least adverse impact and move forward with new plans. An important area of investigation is an
evaluation of the coping strategies of the company and the development of coping
competencies and strategies.

Labour-related causes include the rise in labour costs because of the decline in the
supply of workers, both skilled and unskilled, with the growth in other manual work or skilled
work dependent industries. With demand for workers remaining the same because of the
manual work involved in tomato production, the cost of labour increased, translating into greater
costs for the company. Another labour-related problem is the high attrition rate of key long-term
personal of the firm. This increases internal cost because the retention of the key employees
involves lesser cost than the recruitment of new employees or training of present employees to
take on the key positions vacated. The primary reason cited by the long-term personnel in
leaving the firm is their perception of not having any future with the company. This means that
the current motivation, job satisfaction, and employee commitment strategies of the company
were not effective in encouraging key personnel to remain working for the company as core
contributors. Although the company practices in-house promotion so that present employees
comprise the first choice in promoting personnel to higher positions, which is an incentive for
employee retention, there are factors that adversely influenced the decision of key personnel to
leave the company. These factors include the lack of uniform performance measures or
performance measures perceived as unfair or inconsistent as bases for promotions so that even
with in-house promotions, the personnel who decided to leave the company do not expect the
recognition or reward of their valuable contributions. Human resource management constitutes
a core area requiring investigation and change in the company.

Nevertheless, even if the firm has experienced a number of problems that contribute to
the increase in costs and impending decline in growth, Juicy Red Tomato Company face
promising opportunities for expansion of its business operations to usher in an increase in the
growth rate of the firm. This would have significant implications for the firm since an increased
growth rate would offset the increases in internal costs brought about by the natural and labour-
related problems as well as secure the sustainable operations of the business firm. A thorough
investigation of the opportunities for expansion and the impacts to the firm deserves
consideration as an underlying context for the investigation.
Objectives

Juicy Red Tomato Company has commissioned this human resource consultant to
investigate two specific issues. First issue is the determination of the effectiveness and
efficiency of the firm’s present organizational structure. Second issue is the selection and
maintenance of managerial personnel. Although the company has specified the focus of the
investigation on the human resource management issues, looking into the holistic operations of
the firm would allow the investigation to derive context-based data necessary in supporting
customized human resource solutions for the firm. Internal and external research applies in
effectively collecting preliminary and additional information on the objects of investigation.
Internal research covers data collection from parties forming part of the firm with direct
information on the objects of the study and key internal documents while external research
covers industry reports and existing papers on the experiences of similar firms to support data
collection and analyses.

Theories/Hypotheses

Preliminary information derived from observations of the operations of the firm and
informal conversations with some personnel provided support for the hypotheses determined for
investigation, which are:

1) The firm needs to rationalize and re-organize its firm structure to capture the core
competencies needed by the firm;

2) The firm needs to introduce a fair and uniform performance measurement system as bases
for promotion and rewards;

3) The firm needs to enhance incentives for managerial and front-line employees;

4) Develop open communications and collaborative working environment; and

5) Invest in appropriate information and communications technology (ICT).

Rationalization and re-organization of the business firm is necessary for the company to
update its organizational structure and adjust to changes in the present business environment
(Hornsby and Kuratko, 2005). It appears that the firm has not made any changes in its
organizational structure in ten years. This contributed to the rise in internal costs since there
could be tasks that have become redundant with the engagement in emerging technologies or
un-upgraded skills making it difficult for existing personnel to accommodate new task demands.
There is need for the company to assess its existing organizational structure to identify key
positions, merge positions, create new positions, and remove outdated positions. Although this
involves the removal of positions, existing personnel can fill new positions through training and
skills augmentation. (Hornsby and Kuratko, 2005) Even if training involves cost, returns are
long-term.

Establishing a fair and uniform performance measurement system known to employees


and represent employee expectations supports job satisfaction and employee retention because
the personnel know exactly what they need to achieve in order to qualify for promotions and
rewards (Houldsworth and Jirasinghe, 2006). Together with a rational organizational structure,
sound performance measures enable the firm to draw expected contributions from personnel
with personnel holding knowledge that achieving these expectations would result to expected
positive results. This working environment would deter key personnel from leaving the firm.

Enhancing incentives for personnel involves both monetary and non-monetary


encouragement such as fair wage and wage increase standards together with benefits, good
working environment, and productivity-driven business values (Bratton and Gold, 2000). Key
long-term personnel who left could have developed the impression that the company would
never change its existing human resource system.

Developing open communications and collaborative working environment are important


in minimizing internal costs and preventing attrition among long-term personnel. Multi-level
communications allows top management to determine issues emerging among managers and
front line employees for the immediate implementation of solutions. Communications also build
collaboration and information sharing that minimizes delays and errors. (Mathis and Jackson,
2006)

Information and communications technology works in large business firms handling


complex business issues (Scullion and Collings, 2006). Since the company faces promising
expansion, ICT investments could benefit the company but it should identify and develop the
appropriate ICT tools that meet its specific business needs.

Research Design

In investigating the hypotheses mentioned above, the study employs the appropriate
data collection method, data analysis, and interpretation of results. Data Collection
The primary data collection method is interview with key informants from the company
including a sample from the managers and front line employees. Interview constitutes the data
collection tool intended to elicit insights, expand the understanding of concepts, search any
exceptions to existing general rules, and record differences in experiences and situations (Rubin
and Rubin, 2005). Applying the interview method enables the derivation of in-depth information
from the key informants, since the interviewer has control over the data collection process and
can direct the interview process towards the derivation of salient data for the thorough
investigation of the issues subject to investigation. A semi-structured interview works well in the
study by having a set of guide questions made up of both closed and open questions (Rubin
and Rubin, 2005). As a guide, the interviewer can request respondents to elaborate on
particular answers to achieve rich data. Closed questions allow the interviewer to derive
quantitative information while open questions enable the collection of qualitative data. Analysis
of results using both quantitative and qualitative data leads to valid and reliable conclusions,
generalizations, and recommendations for the company.

Analysis and Interpretation

Analysis of results involves the use of both statistical and non-statistical tools with the
data presented through tables, graphs and figures to facilitate easy reading. Statistical tools
appropriate to the study include the derivation of means, comparison of means through t-tests,
and standard deviation. Means determine the concentration of answers to determine the
common experiences and answers, t-tests determine differences in the experiences, and
perceptions of managers and front line employees, and standard deviation determine the extent
of differences in the answers and experiences of the respondents. Non-statistical tools include
tabulation of answers to determine similarities and differences, comparison of answers, and
thematic classification of the answers. Interpretation of analyzed data involves whether the
study has achieve the 1) derivation of recommended solutions to the issues faced by Juicy Red
Tomato Company, 2) the achievement of the objectives set for the investigation, 3) the
collection of the appropriate and sufficient data to support an understanding of the problems
faced by the company, 4) the identification of alternative solutions, and 5) the derivation of
learning from the previous experiences of the business firm.

Expected Outcomes
After the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, the investigation should result to
a clear, reliable and valid report that explains to Juicy Red Tomato Company the underlying
reasons for the increase in internal cost, decline in growth, and attrition among key personnel as
bases for the recommendations given on how the company can effectively address these
problems, particularly the labour-related issues.

Reference List

Bratton, J., & Gold, J. (2000). Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.).
London: Macmillan Press Ltd.

Creswell, J. W. (2002). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd ed.).

Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Hornsby, J. S., & Kuratko, D. F. (2005). Frontline HR: A handbook for the emerging
manager. Mason, OH: Thomson.

Houldsworth, E., & Jirasinghe, D. (2006). Managing & Measuring Employee Performance.
London: Kogan Page.

Mathis, R.L., & Jackson, J.H. (2006). Human Resource Management (11th ed.). Boston, MA:
Thompson South-Western.

Rubin, H., & Rubin, I. (2005). Qualitative interviewing: The art of hearing data. Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Scullion, H., & Collings, D. G. (eds.) (2006). Global Staffing. London: Routledge.

Sekaran, U. (2003). Research Methods for Business (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

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