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Data Collection

Data Collection


First step in statistical approach to a problem is the collection of numerical information i.e. Actually data are the raw materials for final statistical conclusions. Generally data can either be quantitative or qualitative. The data, which can be counted in natural way, is known as quantitative data whereas the data, which represent some quality of an individual, is known as qualitative data or attributes. Generally, all collected phenomena are information but it is being ready to use, for the purpose of statistical analysis, then it works as a data.

There are mainly two types of data on the basis of collection procedures.

They are as follows:

  • Primary Data
  • Secondary Data

Primary Data

Primary data are those fresh and original data, which are collected and recorded by the investigator or researcher. They are the first hand data. Primary data are collected for specific purpose of study of the investigator or researcher. The source of this type of data is called primary source.

Secondary Data

Any data which have been collected earlier for some purpose are secondary data for the individuals who are using them. The data is a primary for those persons or institutions that collect them but the same data become secondary for another. Actually secondary data are the data, which are borrowed from others who have collected them for some other purpose. the degree of accuracy of this type of data is comparatively less than that of the primary data. In order to collect secondary data, the following sources may be used.

Published Sources

  • Reports and publications of ministries, departments of the government, semi government offices, Nepal Rastra Bank, DNCCI, etc.
  • Reports and publications of reputed INGO’s such as UNDP, ADB, UNESCO, WHO, World Banks etc.
  • Reports and publications of reliable NGO’s, journals, periodicals, etc.

Note: In recent years, the Internet has become one of the important sources of data. Almost all reputed companies, business firms or institutions have Internet web sites and provide public access.

Unpublished Sources

  • Records maintained by government offices.
  • Records maintained by research institutions, research scholars etc.
  • Records updated by the departments institutions for their internal purpose.

Advantages of Secondary Data

Following are the advantages of secondary data.

  • It saves time and cost.
  • If specially trained persons collect it, the quality of secondary data is better.
  • The scope of inquiry can be increased in terms of area and time period to be covered.

Disadvantages of Secondary Data

  • Many a times the exact definition of terms and units used in a secondary data are not known.
  • When the secondary data are obtained from two sources, it may not be comparable in terms of definitions, units and time period covered.
  • Some information is often omitted or some categories are pooled.
  • Data may not be in the exact form of the requirement of the researcher.

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Precaution in using Secondary Data

While using secondary data every one should be more careful on the following factors.

  • Reliable of data
  • Suitable of data, and
  • Adequacy of data

Reliability of Data

The investigator or researcher should be very careful about the reliability of data. If data are not reliable, even it is treated and interpreted properly; it may not give good result. It means that the result may misguide. So the investigator or researcher must be serious about the following points.

  • The reliability, integrity and experience of the collecting organization or institutions.
  • The reliability of sources of information, and
  • The methods applied for the collection and analysis of the data.

It is essential that that the collecting agency or organization must be unbiased in collecting data. Data should be collected during the normal time i.e. the time should be free from any abnormalities such as having natural calamities, political upheavals or any other abnormalities.

Suitability of Data

Even if the data are reliable, it should be used after confirming its suitability. It is essential to see whether the collected data are suitable for the purpose of inquiry or not. In this case, the investigator should compare the objectives, nature and scope of the given inquiry with the original investigation. Investigator should conform various terms and units which are clearly defined and check whether they are uniform or not throughout the earlier investigation.

Adequacy of Data

Even if the data are reliable and suitable, it is necessary to see whether it is adequate or not for the inquiry. Thus, in order to arrive at conclusion free form limitations and accuracies, the secondary data must be subjected to through scrutiny and editing before they are accepted for use.

Difference between Primary and Secondary Data

The difference between primary and secondary data is basically depends on the mode of collection of data. The data which is primary for one agency is treated as secondary for the other and vice-versa. However, main difference between primary and secondary data is as follows:

Primary Data Secondary Data
Primary data are original in the sense that they are personally collected by the investigator or researcher involving himself/ herself. Secondary data are not original in the sense that they are collected by some one other than the investigator or researcher.
Primary data collection is more expensive and exhaustive. Secondary data are readily available at less expenses.
Primary data are collected as per requirement of the investigator. Secondary data might have been collected with different objectives.
Primary data may be influenced by personal prejudice of the investigator etc. Secondary data may not be influenced by personal prejudice of the investigator etc.

Theoretical Questions

  1. Define primary data and secondary data.
  2. Distinguish between primary data and secondary data.
  3. What are the methods of primary data collection?
  4. Highlight different problems involved in collecting primary data.
  5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of secondary data?
  6. Describe the steps followed in collecting primary data.
  7. Define secondary data.
  8. List different sources of secondary data.

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