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Data collection instruments

With good planning, you will have developed an overall strategy to approach your research. You will now explore some of the instruments available to collect your data.

When you carry out research, an initial consideration should be about the type of data to be collected and how it will be collected.

Important questions to ask are:

  • What type of data are you collecting?
  • Is it qualitative or quantitative data?

This will inform the type of instrument used for collecting the data.

Let’s assume you want to collect information about the cause of events. Depending on the method chosen you could use any of the instruments detailed below.

Quantitative Qualitative
Questionnaire Interviews
Empirical study Ethnographic study
Surveys Case study

You might take a quantitative approach, using questionnaires or surveys to produce quantifiable data. Or take a qualitative approach, using interviews to get more insight into the experiences of the participants.

You could choose to observe people in the field or at a construction site in an empirical study, or take a more detailed approach by embarking on an ethnographic study; where the researcher is deeply embedded with the subjects and attempts to understand and interpret the behaviour in the situational context.

Further factors to account for when deciding upon the most appropriate tool include:

  • Cost
  • Flexibility
  • Dependability
  • Capacity
  • Accessibility
  • Time

Planning is important at this stage to ensure that the technique adopted is feasible.

If these considerations and any other difficulties are anticipated at the very onset, the actual collection will be straightforward.

Your task

Think about your research topic. Think back to how you derived your research question initially in Step 1.6.

What research instrument(s) would be most effective to collect the type of information that you require? What is your justification?

Don’t forget to capture your thinking in your learning log or portfolio.

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This article is from the free online course:

Global Issues in the Construction Industry

Coventry University