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Data Collection Methods in Business Analysis

Data collection is a very important task for business starting a new venture or deciding to startup a new approach to its strategy. This paper will cover the methodologies that companies can use to collect data and where these tools will be ideally suited.

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Data can be collected from primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are those sources that collect firsthand information directly from the source of that information. On the other hand, secondary sources are those sources where information has already been collected by someone else for a similar purpose and the company is using this source for its own purposes. Both of these methods are mostly used by companies’ injunction to reach to a better analysis and conclusion. (Sociology Guide, 2006)


Primary and secondary data can be collected using a wide variety of tools. For primary analysis the most commonly used tools are

  • Questionnaires – a list of questions with a number of likely choices as answers which can be open or closed ended
  • Interviews – Indepth, Semi-structured and Un-structured question and answer session
  • Focus group – Discussion on a topic given by a moderator
  • Observation – Observing the subjects while at work
  • Case-studies – Studying the organizations and subject under study
  • Diaries – Log-books kept by workers
  • Critical incidents
  • Portfolios

Secondary data is available from a whole lot of sources like

  • Periodicals
  • Libraries
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Journals
  • Magazines
  • Indexes
  • Archives

Using any of these tools has its own advantages and disadvantages. For this reason organizations adopt a hybrid approach using both primary and secondary tools (Axinn & Pearce, pp25-27). Some of the issues that companies face in using a particular approach or tool are given below (Durrance & Fisher, 2005):

Issues with Primary Data Collection

  • Researcher biasness can creep in interviews or questionnaires
  • Questions have to be simple and easy to explain
  • Primary tools tend to be time consuming as well as costly
  • Respondent bias can creep in which a respondent tries to please, create false personal image, or end interview quickly
  • Non-respondent error can create a bias in results
  • Sampling error can completely change the perspective on the research

Issues with Secondary Data Collection

  • Old data can mislead the current facts and figures in secondary data
  • Quality of secondary data can be detrimental for a company relying on secondary research
  • The purpose for which the secondary data was collected might be irrelevant for the current needs of research.

As mentioned above, each tool has its own level of importance and no tool can be rejected as being useless. A specific tool can be ideally suited for one type of data collection, while it may be not as important for another type of data collection. Data from research can be characterized into quantitative or qualitative in nature. Data from surveys and questionnaires is ideal for a quantitative data collection methodology while at the same time an in-depth interview is ideal for collecting qualitative data. Also empirical journal articles tend to provide a more quantitative result while a general review article is more qualitative in nature. For these reasons, sometimes one method is more appropriate in a situation than the rest.

Works Cited

Axinn, W.G. and Pearce, L.D. Mixed method data collection strategies Cambridge University Press. Pp 25-27 (2006).

Durrance, J.C. and Fisher, K.E. How Libraries and Librarians Help: A Guide to Identifying User-Centered Outcome. American Library Association (2005).

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Sociology Guide. Techniques of Data Collection. (2006). Web.

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