Showing posts with label Research Methodology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Research Methodology. Show all posts

Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Data Collection Methods

Data collection is a process of collecting information from all the relevant sources to find answers to the research problem, test the hypothesis and evaluate the outcomes. Data collection methods can be divided into two categories: primary methods of data collection and secondary methods of data collection.

  1. Primary Data Collection Methods

Primary data are information collected by a researcher specifically for a research assignment. In other words, primary data are information that a company must gather because no one has compiled and published the information in a forum accessible to the public. Companies generally take the time and allocate the resources required to gather primary data only when a question, issue, or problem is sufficiently important or unique to warrant the expenditure necessary to gather the primary data. Primary data are original in nature and directly related to the issue or problem and current data. Primary data are the data which the researcher collects through various methods like interviews, surveys, questionnaires, etc. The primary data have its own advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of primary data:

  1. The primary data are original and relevant to the topic of the research study, so the degree of accuracy is very high.

  2. Primary data can be collected in several ways like interviews, telephone surveys, focus groups, etc. It can also be collected across national borders through emails and posts. It can include a large population and wide geographical coverage.

  3. Moreover, primary data is current, and it can better give a realistic view to the researcher about the topic under consideration.

  4. The reliability of primary data is very high because the concerned and reliable party collects these.

Disadvantages of primary data:


  1. For collecting primary data where an interview is to be conducted, the coverage is limited, and for wider coverage, more researchers are required for wider coverage.

  2. A lot of time and effort is required for data collection. By the time the data collected, analyzed, and reported is ready, the research problem becomes very serious or outdated. So the purpose of the research may be defeated.

  3. It has design problems like how to design the surveys. The questions must be simple to understand and respond to.

  4. Some respondents do not give timely responses. Sometimes, the respondents may give fake, socially acceptable, and sweet answers and try to cover up the realities.

  5. With more people, time, and effort involved, the cost of the data collection goes high. The importance of the research may go down.

  6. Some primary data collection methods have no control over the data collection. Incomplete questionnaires always have a negative impact on research.

  7. Trained persons are required for data collection. An experienced person in data collection may give inadequate data for the research.

Primary data collection methods can further be divided into quantitative and qualitative.

  1. Quantitative data collection methods are based on mathematical calculations in various formats. Methods of quantitative data collection and analysis include questionnaires with closed-ended questions, correlation, and regression methods, mean, mode, median, and others.

Quantitative methods are cheaper and can be applied within a shorter time than qualitative methods. Moreover, due to a high level of standardization of quantitative methods, it is easy to make comparisons of findings.

  1. Qualitative research methods, on the contrary, do not involve numbers or mathematical calculations. Qualitative research is closely associated with words, sounds, feeling, emotions, colours, and other elements that are non-quantifiable.

Qualitative studies aim to ensure greater understanding, and qualitative data collection methods include interviews, questionnaires with open-ended questions, focus groups, observation, game or role-playing, case studies, etc.


  1. Secondary Data Collection Methods

Secondary data has already been published in books, newspapers, magazines, journals, online portals, etc.  There is an abundance of data available in these sources about your research area in business studies, regardless of the nature of the research area. Therefore, applying appropriate criteria to select secondary data to be used in the study plays an important role in increasing the research validity and reliability levels.

These criteria include but are not limited to date of publication, author credential, source reliability, quality of discussions, depth of analyses, the extent of contribution of the text to the development of the research area, etc.

Secondary data is classified in terms of its source – either internal or external. Internal, or in-house data, is secondary information acquired within the organization where research is being carried out. External secondary data is obtained from outside sources. There are various advantages and disadvantages of using secondary data.

Advantages of Secondary Data:

  1. The primary advantage of secondary data is that it is cheaper and faster to access.

  2. Secondly, it provides a way to access the work of the best scholars worldwide.

  3. Thirdly, secondary data gives a frame of mind to the researcher in which direction they should go for the specific research.

  4. Fourthly secondary data save time, effort, and money and add to the value of the research study.

Disadvantages of Secondary data:

  1. The data collected by the third party may not be reliable, so the reliability and accuracy of data go down.

  2. Data collected in one location may not be suitable for the other due to variable environmental factors.

  3. Over time, the data becomes obsolete and very old.

  4. Secondary data collected can distort the results of the research. For secondary data, special care must be amended or modified for use.

  5. Secondary data can also raise issues of authenticity and copyright.

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of sources of data requirement of the research study and time factor, both sources of data, i.e., primary and secondary data, have been selected. These are used in combination to give proper coverage to the topic.

As can be seen from the above discussion that primary data is original and unique data, which the researcher directly collects from a source according to his requirements. Compared to secondary data, which is easily accessible but not pure, as they have undergone many statistical treatments. Secondary data sources are government publications, websites, books, journal articles, and internal records.

Basic and Applied Research

The purpose of research is to discover answers to questions through the application of scientific procedures. Research always starts from a question like why, what, how, etc. The nature of questions varies with the research procedure and methods and procedure. Research may be classified crudely, according to its major intent or the method. According to the intent, research may be classified as pure research (basic research), applied research, exploratory research, descriptive study, action research, etc. According to the method of study, research may be classified as experimental research, analytical study, historical research, and survey.

The reason for asking research questions are of two general kinds; intellectual and practical.

  1. Intellectual questions are based on the desire to know or understand for the satisfaction of knowing or understanding.

  2. Practical questions are based on the desire to do something better or more efficiently.

The investigation to which these two types of questions lead is sometimes labeled pure or basic and applied research.

  1. PURE (BASIC) RESEARCH

Pure research is focused on collecting knowledge without any intention to apply it. It is purely intellectual in character. It is also known as basic or fundamental research. Intellectual curiosity is the only motivational factor behind it. It is not necessarily problem-oriented. It aims to extension of knowledge. It may lead to either discovery of a new theory or refinement of an existing theory. The development of various sciences owes much too pure research. The findings of pure research enrich the store house of knowledge. Pure research lays the foundation for applied research. The findings of pure research formed the basis for innumerable scientific and technological inventions like steam engine, automobiles and telecommunication, etc., which have revolutionalized and enriched our human life.

Contributions of Pure Research

  1. Pure research provides solutions to many practical problems by developing principles.

  2. Pure research helps to find out the critical factors in practical problems.

  3. Pure research provides many alternative solutions and thus enables us to choose best solutions.

  1. APPLIED RESEARCH

Applied research is focused upon a real-life problem requiring action for a policy decisions. It tries to find out practical and immediate results. It is thus problem-oriented and action directed.

According to Kerlinger, applied research is research directed towards solving specified practical problems. Julian Simon has pointed out that applied social sciences help in making policy decision. Applied research methods are sometimes more sophisticated than any methods used in pure research.

There is vast scope for applied research in the fields of technology, management, commerce, economics, and other social sciences. Innumerable problems are faced in these areas. They need empirical study for finding solutions. The immediate purpose of applied research is to find solutions to practical problems, it may incidentally contribute to the development of theoretical knowledge by leading to the discovery of new facts or testing of a theory or conceptual clarity.

Contributions of Applied Research

  1. Applied research can contribute new facts.

  2. Applied research can put theory to the test.

  3. Applied research may aid in dual concept clarification.

  4. Applied research may integrate previously existing theories.

Thus, the distinction between pure and applied research is not absolute. Both are not contradictory but are complementary. Pure research may have significant potential for its application to the solution of a practical problem, and applied research may end up making a scientific contribution to the development of theoretical knowledge.

Social Survey

A Social Survey is a research method used for collecting data from a pre-defined group of respondents to gain information and insights on various topics of interest. Surveys have a variety of purposes and can be carried out in many ways depending on the methodology chosen and the objectives to be achieved.

The data is usually obtained through standardized procedures whose purpose is to ensure that each respondent can answer the questions at a level playing field to avoid biased opinions that could influence the outcome of the research or study. A survey involves asking people for information through a questionnaire, which can be distributed on paper. However, with the arrival of new technologies, it is more common to distribute them using digital media such as social networks, email, QR codes, or URLs.

Survey Method

The Survey method is the technique of gathering data by asking questions to people who are thought to have desired information. A formal list of questionnaires is prepared. Generally, a non-disguised approach is used. The respondents are asked questions about their demographic interest opinion.

Advantages of Survey Method

  1. Compared to other methods (direct observation, experimentation), surveys yield a broader range of information. Surveys effectively produce information on socio-economic characteristics, attitudes, opinions, motives, etc., and gather information for planning product features, advertising media, sales promotion, channels of distribution, and other marketing variables.

  2. Questioning is usually faster and cheaper than observation.

  3. Questions are simple to administer.

  4. Data is reliable.

  5. The variability of results is reduced.

  6. It is relatively simple to analyze, quote, and interrelate the data obtained by the survey method.

Disadvantages of Survey Method

  1. The unwillingness of respondents to provide information- This requires salesmanship on the interviewer's part. The interviewer may assure that the information will be kept secret or apply the technique of offering some presents.

  2. The inability of the respondents to provide information- This may be due to

    1. Lack of knowledge

    2. Lapse of memory

    3. Inability to identify their motives and provide “reasons why?” for their actions

  3. The respondents' human biases are there, e.g., “Ego.”

  4. Symantec difficulties are there - it is difficult, if not impossible, to state a given question so that it will mean exactly the same thing to each respondent. Similarly, two different wordings of the same question will frequently produce quite different results.

How to overcome the limitations of Survey Method

  1. Careful framing and phrasing of questions.

  2. Careful control of data gathering by employing specially trained investigators who will observe carefully report on subtle reactions of persons interviewed

  3. Cautious interpretations by a clear recognition of the limitations of the data and understating of what exactly the data represents. This is especially true of responses to questions like - “What price would you be willing to pay for this product?”

  4. Looking at facts in relative rather than absolute terms. For example, a survey by a dentist team showed that the number of families in the middle-income group used toothpaste taken by itself in the absolute sense. The results of the study are in some doubt. Even though the individual group readings shall differ, it could be 90%. Hence we should look at the facts in relative rather than absolute terms.

TYPES OF SURVEY

There are various types of surveys you can choose from. Basically, the types of surveys are broadly categorized into two: instrumentation and according to the span of time involved. The types of surveys, according to instrumentation, include the questionnaire and the interview. On the other hand, the types of surveys, according to the time used to conduct the study, are comprised of cross-sectional and longitudinal surveys.

According to Instrumentation

In survey research, the instruments that are utilized can be either a questionnaire or an interview (either structured or unstructured).

  1. Questionnaires:

Typically, a questionnaire is a paper-and-pencil instrument that is administered to the respondents. The usual questions found in questionnaires are closed-ended, followed by response options. However, some questionnaires ask open-ended questions to explore the respondents' answers.

Questionnaires have been developed over the years. Today, questionnaires are utilized in various survey methods, according to how they are given. These methods include self-administered, group-administered, and household drop-off. Among the three, researchers often use the self-administered survey method. The self-administered questionnaires are widely known as the mail survey method. However, since the response rates related to mail surveys had gone low, questionnaires are now commonly administered online, as in the form of web surveys.

  1. Advantages: Ideal for asking closed-ended questions; effective for market or consumer research

  2. Disadvantages: Limit the researcher’s understanding of the respondent’s answers; requires a budget for the reproduction of survey questionnaires

  1. Interviews:

Between the two broad types of surveys. Questionnaires do not provide the freedom to ask follow-up questions to explore the answers of the respondents, but interviews do.

An interview includes two persons - the researcher as the interviewer and the respondent as the interviewee. There are several survey methods that utilize interviews. These are the personal or face-to-face interview, the phone interview, and, more recently, the online interview.

  1. Advantages: Follow-up questions can be asked, providing a better understanding of the respondents' answers.

  2. Disadvantages: Time-consuming; many target respondents have no public-listed phone numbers or no telephones at all

According to the Span of Time Involved

The span of time needed to complete the survey brings us to the two different types of surveys: cross-sectional and longitudinal.

  1. Cross-Sectional Surveys:

Collecting information from the respondents at a single period in time uses the cross-sectional type of survey. Cross-sectional surveys usually utilize questionnaires to ask about a particular topic at one point in time. For instance, a researcher conducted a cross-sectional survey asking about teenagers’ views on cigarette smoking as of May 2010. Sometimes, cross-sectional surveys are used to identify the relationship between two variables, as in a comparative study. An example of this is administering a cross-sectional survey about the relationship between peer pressure and cigarette smoking among teenagers as of May 2010.

  1. Longitudinal Surveys:

When the researcher attempts to gather information over a period of time or from one point in time up to another, he is doing a longitudinal survey. Longitudinal surveys aim to collect data and examine the changes in the data gathered. Longitudinal surveys are used in cohort, panel, and trend studies.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

SUBJECTIVITY

Qualitative research looks into the discursive potential of discourses and cultures in an open and systematic way. It contrasts sharply with the reductionism and delimitation of human subjectivity that persists in traditional quantitative research. Qualitative methodology recognizes that the subjectivity of the researcher is intimately involved in scientific research. Subjectivity guides everything from the choice of topic that one studies, to formulating hypotheses, to selecting methodologies, and interpreting data. In qualitative methodology, the researcher is encouraged to reflect on the values and objectives that bring to the research and how these affect the research project. Other researchers are also encouraged to reflect on the values that any particular investigator utilizes.

Subjectivity is thus broadly used and has become a word with many subtle shades of meaning. Subjectivity from a subject’s point of view is usually opposed to objectivity. The most value-neutral definition would be that it is the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and desires that comprise a person’s self-identity.  However, in a traditional scientific discourse, subjectivity is often presented as the polar opposite of objectivity. 

However, Qualitative methodology has no objectivist strand. Objectivism states that the researcher’s subjectivity can be enabled to accurately comprehend the world as it exists in itself. Of course, subjectivity can make the researcher biased and preclude objectively understanding a subject’s psychological reality. However, this is not inevitable. In fact, one of the advantages of recognizing subjectivity is to reflect on whether it facilitates or impedes objective comprehension. Distorting values can then be replaced by values that enhance objectivity.

Subjectivity’s role in relation to the sociological approach is crucial. Subjectivity is a commonly used concept that has taken on a variety of meanings. The inner state of the self-constituted by thought, experience, sentiment, belief, intentionality, self-knowledge, and the awareness of others, is the most value-neutral concept.

Objectivity is seen as an essential element in conducting academic research and conveying a general view of a field in the conventional research paradigm that originated from the natural sciences, as well as the fact that subjectivity should be limited to the greatest degree possible. In light of the results, a number of generalizations can be made. Human beings are usually treated as subjects to be studied when they become part of an experimental study process, contrary to popular belief, and they are socially situated and revealed.

Subjectivity in social research

The problem of subjectivity in social theory arises when one wants to give a central place to actors’ understandings and motives in the concrete situations in which they act while seeking to describe and explain social phenomena in terms of fixed categories specified in a theoretical framework. The challenge then is to represent the actors’ subjective views within those categories in a way which preserves that centrality. Although the problem appears in many forms of theorizing, it is especially urgent when theoretical concepts are proposed as universal, holding irrespective of time and place. 

  1. Approaches in Sociology

Subjectivist approaches on the other hand place their emphasis on the person, as they value individual experiences and aim to uncover the meaning behind these actions. The macro-structures are not of much relevance. Sociological approaches which follow this line of thought include symbolic interactionism, phenomenology and ethnomethodology. Symbolic interactionism focuses on the hidden or inherent meanings ascribed to things and is interested in how communication and interaction shape the social world. Phenomenology is built around symbolic interactionism and studies consciousness as a structure experienced in the first person. Ethnomethodology studies how social order is produced as a result of social interaction. All these approaches understand society from a micro perspective.

According to Schutz, social sciences are constructs of the second degree, meaning, they are constructs of constructs made by individuals (actors). Therefore, in order to understand this, the social scientist must observe and explain this in accordance with the rules of his science. In this case that translates to observing and understanding the root of social interaction and action that constructs meaning in everyday life.  Bittner was hesitant in terming these approaches as subjectivist as they would get lost within the discourse around objectivity and subjectivity. He argued that experience cannot entirely be construed as ‘subjective’ as it includes references to an objective social world. To characterise phenomenology as subjective opens a dangerous territory. While it is inherently subjective, it is not void of objectivity. Bittner urges to draw attention to the fact that the factual reality of the world actually has an effect on the subject.

  1. Research Methods: Subjectivity

Experiments have always been a preferred method to study human behaviour in both disciplines. However, as approaches and theories developed researchers now use a range of methods to obtain qualitative data that is rich. Interpretivism integrates human interest into the study and aims to uncover the reasoning behind human behaviour and actions. While experiments allow for a description of unbiased data, they may not always reflect what is happening in the real world. A controlled environment is not the same as everyday life and what researchers are interested in studying is human behaviour in real life. Field experiments, observations and qualitative interviews are examples of research methods that allow for a subjective interpretation of behaviour. Qualitative interviews, for example, provide subjects with the platform to express their thought process and with precautions bias that could confound data can be avoided. These tools are greatly useful when wanting to describe lived experiences.

Thus, subjectivity is generally conceptualized as the way research is influenced by the perspectives, values, social experiences, and viewpoints of the researcher. Traditional scientific discourse equates subjectivity with personal biases because, according to its empirical orientation, direct or indirect influence of the researcher on the collection, handling, interpretation, and reporting of data invalidates the research findings. For this reason, research reports from a scientific orientation make a claim to objectivity, a principle is drawn from postpositivism that researchers should make every attempt to remain distanced from the phenomenon under investigation.

The significance of social research

  1. Source of Knowledge: Social research is an important source of knowledge. It opens new ways of knowledge and wisdom. When something unknown brings to a researcher, there is a sort of inner pleasure and happiness. It gives knowledge to the researcher about unknown facts. It paves out the way of ignorance and gives new directions to social life.

  2. Research in Informative: It provides updated, proven, authentic and very useful information to the end-users. Researchers and common people can take advantage of research. It is not only informative. Its findings are scientifically based therefore the results and information are reliable.

  3. Social Cohesion and Unity: Social unity in a problematic area between two groups or castes is only possible due to social research. Social research manifests the causes of these events and gives a remedial solution to them. So, social researcher is the main factor in bringing social coherence and unity in society.

  4. Social Planning: If someone wants to develop and bring social growth and development in a society, social planning will be developed which is the outcome of social research. In this situation achieve the growth of society on right line is highly necessary. Social growth can possible only when problems are solved.

  5. Solution of Social Problems: Social research also helps in the solution of social problems it is the research through which we can find the causative factors of an existing social problem and guide us about his solution.

  6. Structural Changes: Social research is responsible for bringing structural changes in social life. We bring social and cultural change in a social situation which is the outcome of social research.

  7. Social Welfare: Social evils can be removed from society due to research. The process of social welfare is possible due to the procedure of social research through which social evils can be removed.

  8. Social Prediction: Social research helps in making laws and the relation between social laws and their factors. It helps to know the existence of causative factors and their magnitude and this facilitates prediction of results.

  9. Social Control: For smooth running of society social control is necessary. For this purpose, we apply social research to society for bringing social order and control.

  10. Social Growth: The growth and development in a society are possible for the improvement of living standard and it is the main function of social research.

  11. New Techniques: Social Research introduces new techniques and improves the old ones. It also modifies the existing tools of research. It gives us the methods of knowing new ways for using our research procedure.