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Data collection tools

Examples of data collection tools
Woman filling out a questionnaire on a clipboard whilst sat at a table.
© COG-Train

What is Data Collection?

Data collection is the methodical process of gathering and analyzing specific information to provide solutions to relevant questions and evaluate the results. It focuses on finding out all there is to a particular subject matter.

What is a Data Collection Tool?

A data collection tool is an instrument used to collect data intended to answer a particular question(s), such as a paper-based or a computer system. The underlying need for data collection is to capture quality data that seeks to answer questions that have been posted. The choice of the tool to use is mainly determined by the likelihood of errors, cost, and time.

The Different Data Collection Tools – During the Pandemic?

It is useful to ensure that quality data is collected so that you can draw inferences and make informed decisions on what is factual. In relation to sampling and testing during the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals, public and private institutions participating in the COVID-19 testing or surveillance have deployed different tools for data collection of patients’ information, samples and test results information around the pandemic.

1) Laboratory Investigation Forms (LIFs):
When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, the ministry of health in Uganda, together with the different laboratories involved in the sample collection and testing developed a standard Laboratory Investigation Form for enrolling and documenting all the important information about the COVID-19 suspected patients and samples. This form would be printed into booklets and distributed across the country to the different COVID-19 collection and testing facilities. Similar forms, both paper and online are used globally to record critical patient information. Challenges arise from the ability to quickly and accurately collate and combine this data at scale for public health benefit.

2) Common Online Survey Tools:
a) Google Forms: This is a free survey administration software included as part of the free, web-based Google Docs Editors suite offered by Google. It helps you to easily create and share polished surveys and forms to respondents from which you can analyze their responses.
b) Microsoft form: An online survey creator, part of Office 365 by Microsoft. It allows users to create surveys and quizzes, and the data from respondents can be exported to Microsoft Excel for further analysis.
c) Doodle forms: This is a free online tool that allows users to create questionnaires to gather people’s opinions.
d) Emails: You can use emails, webmail or mailing lists to send out questions or questionnaires for which you receive feedback from the respondents.
e) Social Media: During the CoVID-19 pandemic, many organisations and individuals used social media such Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter to collect information from users about the pandemic.

3) Common Online Data Collection Tools:
a) Open Data Kit (ODK):ODK is open-source software for collecting, managing and using data in resource-constrained environments. It allows for offline data collection with mobile devices in remote areas and the submission of the data to the server can be performed, when internet connectivity on the device is available.
b) RedCap: A web application for building and managing online surveys and designing clinical and translational research databases. It provides for the export of the data into other applications for further analysis.
c) Kobotoolbox: It is a free and open-source software suite of tools for field data collection for use in challenging environments. It provides simple, robust and powerful tools for data collection and analysis. Custom software applications. Customised software is software that is specially developed for a specific organisation or user. In circumstances where the available tools cannot meet your needs, one can develop their own software application for their data collection needs.

Comment below if you ever used these or any other collection tools.

© COG-Train
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From Swab to Server: Testing, Sequencing, and Sharing During a Pandemic

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