Data Collection & Analysis

by Alice Weber, MCMLA Research Committee

You’ve refined your research question and design. You’ve even gotten IRB approval where needed. Now what? Go collect that data!

Data Collection      

The data you collect are your evidence!

Your data need to provide Accuracy (reliability and validity) and Completeness (see Ohio State's Research Handbook for more information).

Depending on your research question, your data may be quantitative (the numbers) or qualitative (the stories) – or both.

To see some data collection methods annotated with their strengths and weaknesses, check out the NN/LM's Data Collection Handout.

Where do data come from?

  • Documents (literature review, meta-analysis, content analysis, historical, diaries, etc.)
  • Data Mining (obtaining relevant data from management information systems or secondary sources)
  • Observations (observing and recording well-defined events, including follow-up interviews)
  • Surveys/ Questionnaires/Focus Groups (gather sample opinions, knowledge, or performance of your target group, follow-up interviews)
  • Experiments/Clinical Trials  (under controlled conditions)

Keep track of your data whether it be in a spreadsheet, a word document, project management software, even old-fashioned paper!

Sources for more information on data collection:

Ohio State University, Research Handbook

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Data Collection Methods  

Northern Arizona University, Methods of Data Collection 

StatTrek's Data Collection Methods

Data Analysis 

Whew! This is pretty complex. I'll try to simplify...

So, what do your data tell you? Do these data answer your research question?

Review the resources available to you through your organization, including your local statistician. Display results in graphs, charts, tables to make them easier to understand.

Depending on the kinds of data you collected, consider exploring the following tools for your data analysis:

For other resources, see the MLA Research Section, including the Research Tools area.  

23 November 2011

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