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Data: Finding, Interpreting, and Managing Data: Collect Data

Finding, interpreting, and managing data

Institutional Review Board (IRB)

Before conducting research with human subjects, you must receive approval from your school's Institutional Review Board (IRB) to ensure information is kept confident and/or anonymous.

Methods of Collection

Surveys are a method of measurement based on the systematic collection of information from a sample of members of a population.

Interviews are structured or unstructured one-on-one directed conversations with an individual.

Focus Groups are structured interviews with a small group of individuals who share something in common.

Action Research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. 

Direct Observation is meant very broadly here; it differs from interviewing in that the observer does not actively query the respondent. It can include everything from field research where one lives in another context or culture for a period of time to photographs that illustrate some aspect of the phenomenon.

Population refers to the inhabitants of a particular town, area, or country.

Sample refers to a small part of the population, but is reflective of the population as a whole.

Data Collection Software


Qualitative data is descriptive data and is normally collected through a type of interview in order to gather information about experiences as they relate to the research question.  Methods of data collection include interviews, focus groups, action research, and observation.


Quantitative data collection usually focuses on collecting numerical data to answer a question, rather than experiences.  The main method of data collection for quantitative research is through surveys, although quantitative data is also collected through experimental and quasi-experimental treatments and designs.

Surveys: Surveys are a great way to gather information from a lot of people at once.  Listed below are some free tools available for creating and distributing surveys.  Note: Qualtrics and Survey Monkey have free versions but you have to pay for the upgraded version.