Statistical data for research investigations may either be primary or secondary.
The former are original observation collected by the researcher or his agents for the first time whereas, the latter refer to data that have already been collected by the same or a different agency.
The nature, purpose and scope of a research study greatly affect the choice of method to be adopted for the collection of research data. Availability of time and finance also affect the choice of method for collecting primary data. The following methods are usually adopted for the collection of primary data: (a) Direct personal observation method. (b) Indirect oral examination method. (c) Questionnaires (d) Interview schedules. Direct Personal Observation Method Many kinds of data such as a general public interest in the field of tourism may be obtained through direct personal observation. Data derived from this technique include people’s personal facts.
To obtain these and many other types of data, researcher precedes best by observing the appropriate situations. The greatest asset of observational techniques is that they make it possible to record behaviour as it occurs. In addition to its independence of a subject’s ability to report, observation method is also independent of his willingness to report. Application of Observation Method: Application of this method in the collection of research data necessitates the identification of sources and fields of investigation. This identification is very important to avoid the likelihood of an investigation to go astray and waste time, effort and scarce funds on unwanted data. After the researcher has satisfied himself about the proper identification of the area of operation he or his appointed agents collect the data personally by meeting the respondents directly. The researcher or investigator should understand fully the characteristic of the area of operation and should identify him with the respondents for obtaining correct information.
He should be a person of keen observation and should possess a number of qualities. He should be witty, polite, extremely courteous and intellectually very sharp to elicit correct information from the respondents. The researcher should be quite adept in his job and should conduct himself very cautiously particularly, with those respondents who are largely illiterate and ignorant about statistical investigations. Requirements in Observation Method: The first requirement is that observation should reliable. The second requirement is that observation should be valid; i.e.
they should provide a true measure of the characteristic they purport to measure. Carelessness on the part of a researcher may result in the collection of erroneous data and at times errors may be quite large-Caution is also needed, if the questions are such as would touch the sentiments or ask for the secret information of the respondents. Researcher has to look for the most responsible person of the family who cannot only understand him but, would also provide him accurate information. Question should be simple and easy to comprehend and should be posed very politely to the respondent. Effectiveness and Limitations: This method is more effective in eliciting the information accurately and adequately; the degree of accuracy depending upon the dexterity with which the researcher has conducted himself.
The information collected is also original and can be analysed in any desired fashion. However, observation method has its specific limitations. This method of collecting primary data is very costly and time consuming. The scope of this method remains limited by the availability of time and funds. The personal bias of this researcher does harm to the reliability of the data and it is, therefore, highly essential to have a very dependable investigator who would collect the data without letting his personal bias to effect it. This type of inquiry, while admirable because of additional accuracy due to personal supervision covers too narrow a field to be representative and is also liable to too large an injection of the personal element.
The prejudices and desires of the investigator too often, though unconsciously, are woven into the fabric of his conclusion.
Sometimes, if for some reason, the information cannot be collected directly, an indirect approach is adopted to record the relevant observations. Persons who are supposed to have correct knowledge about the respondents are approached and requested to state the pertinent facts to be required by the researcher. This method is resorted to when the time and funds are limited and a exhaustive direct investigation cannot be taken in hand. A small list of questions is prepared and put to those who are sources of the pertinent data.
Many enquiry commissions conduct indirect oral examination of the witnesses to ascertain the relevant facts of the problem. It is desirable that several people be contacted so that cross-checks can be made on the facts and their reliability and desirability increased. The selection of the persons from whom the information is sought or collected should be made carefully.
These persons should be knowledgeable, unbiased, and capable of expressing themselves clearly and correctly and should not be influenced by any sources to present the data in a wrong fashion. The researcher should carefully use his data make allowance for all possible errors or inaccuracies. Questionnaires:A very commonly used method ‘of collecting research data is through questionnaires. The questionnaires are sent to the concerned persons with the request that the information sought be furnished and the questionnaire returned to the concerned officer or agency. Questionnaires may also be sent through enumerators to help the respondents to furnish correct information. Selection of Enumerators: In order to assist the respondents to fill in the correct answers, sometimes, questionnaires are sent through enumerators who are usually trained in this job. The enumerators not only help in explaining the questionnaires and the terms and definitions used therein but also, explain the importance of an enquiry to the respondents.
As such the importance of correct answers is emphasised and the accuracy of data is greatly increased. The selection of enumerators has therefore, to be done very carefully. They must be painstaking, patient and polite. Problems in Questionnaire Method: Filling out lengthy questionnaire? Takes a great deal of time and effort, a favour that few senders have any right to expect of strangers. The unfavourable reaction is intensified when the questionnaire is long, the subject trivial in importance, the items vaguely worded and the form poorly organized.
Unless one is dealing with a group of respondents who have a genuine interest in the problem under investigation, who know the sender or who have some common bond loyalty to a sponsoring institution or organisation, the rate of returns is frequently disappointing and provides a flimsy basis for generalisation.
1. Mailed questionnaires method can prove very handy and useful, if a wide area of investigation is to be covered and information is required soon. This method as such is least expensive. With a given amount of funds, it is usually possible to cover a wider area and to obtain personally interviewing each respondent. 2. Further, the impersonal nature of a questionnaire, its standardized wording, its standardized order of questions, its standardized instructions for recording responses ensure some uniformity from one measurement situation to another.
3. Another advantage of questionnaires is that respondents may have greater confidence in their anonymity and thus, feel free to express views their fear might be disapproved of or might get them into trouble. Nevertheless this method remains seriously handicapped, if the respondents are illiterate and cannot properly fill in the answers. Further, since the method is voluntary in character, the co-operation of the respondents is highly essential. Indifferent respondents either do not care to send back the questionnaires or fill in the answers vaguely and erroneously.
This does not serve the purpose of the researcher.
One of the major drew-backs to the use of questionnaire is that it is appropriate only for subjects with a considerable amount of education. Complicated questionnaires requiring extended written responses can be used with only a very small percentage of the population. Since, questionnaires are not an appropriate method for large segments of the population. On the other data can be collected by interviewing almost all segments of the population with the help of schedules.
Schedule is the name usually applied to a set of questions which are asked and filled in by an interviewer in a face- to-face situation with another person.