Primary data sources are those where you get the information first-hand. This includes information you have collected it yourself through observation, surveys or interviews. It may also include books etc. depending upon the research involved. This is the preferred source of information for research, however they may not always be available for several reasons such as the original language the source was written in or the source is out of print. Collecting data from primary sources is often called field research.
Secondary data sources are those where the information is not first-hand. They may include commentaries, reviews, summaries, explanations, other research articles etc. Secondary data is also very useful in that it may point the researcher to many other sources of primary data, it is also easy to obtain, but the researcher must always be careful with the information. Collecting data from secondary sources is referred to as desk research.
Quantitative data includes information that can be directly measured numerically. It uses numbers to measure and describe the subject (quantity = quantitative). For example: trees per hectare: 124 trees/ha, average height: 32.3 m. Quantitative data is:
- easier to analyse.
You would use quantitative date if:
- you want to do statistical analysis
- you know exactly what you want to measure
- you are covering large groups.
Qualitative data includes information which can be observed but not measured. It is descriptive and deals with the quality of the subject (quality = qualitative). Eg: types of trees on property: E. maculata, E. pipperita, height: tall. It provides responses which reflect:
You would use Qualitative data if:
- you want anecdotal information or personal information, and/or
- are not entirely sure what you want to measure, and/or
- are not required to quantify your results.
Data collection techniques include:
- Using available information - Literature.
- Using available information - Key informants.
- Interviews – degrees of flexibility.
- Focus Groups - discussion.
- Observation – of behaviour, of the current state of an object.
- Mapping – important visual representation of geographic relationships.
- Scaling – gain other’s opinion.
The literature review provides a framework within which to investigate the field of interest. The aim is to provide you with sufficient working knowledge of a topic in preparation for studying that topic. It will also help focus you in your proposed area of research.
A key informant is someone who is considered very knowledgeable or has experience in your field of research. They may be a community member, an academic or a survivor who tells their story. They provide an opportunity to access available information.
This method is one in which a researcher manipulates a variable (anything that can vary) under highly controlled conditions to see if this produces (causes) any changes in a second variable.
All scientific disciplines use this method because they are interested in understanding the laws (cause-and-effect relationships) of nature. The power of the experimental method derives from the fact that it allows researchers to detect cause-and-effect relationships
In order to see cause-and-effect relationships the researcher must be sure that his manipulations (the independent variable) are the only variables having an effect on the dependent variable. He does this by holding all other variables, variables that might also affect the dependent variable, constant (equivalent, the same).
You can enrol on this Thesis Writing course today - simply go to the "It's easy to enrol" box at the top right hand side of this page.
Or, if you would like to know more, or need help in choosing a course get in touch with us today.
Phone us on (UK) 01384 442752, or (outside UK) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or
Use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE - connect with our specialist tutors - they will be pleased to hear from you.