This blog is the second installment of an IOM summer series on applying research principles to your everyday work. See the first blog post.
In the first installment of this series, we talked about establishing objectives and assessing available resources. In this second installment of this series, we will talk about some ways to collect data and successful principles to apply in executing your approach.
Step 3: Ways to Collect Data
There are many different ways to collect data, so it is important to narrow down the best methods give your ultimate goal and available resources. First, it may be helpful to think about qualitative vs. quantitative data. Quantitative data is information that can be measured or written down with numbers. Whereas qualitative data is information that approximates or characterizes something without giving exact measurements. Both types are important and should be considered depending on your end goal. Maybe your board likes to see numbers, figures, and tables, so consider quantitative data collection. Or maybe your board likes to read quotes from participants or antidotes that help them understand the context, so qualitative collection may be helpful. Ultimately, researchers try to incorporate both in any effort!
Here are some of options to consider for your future data collection:
- There are many options for free or paid versions of online survey software. This would allow you to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. Check out SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics as possibilities. Remember, you can always do paper surveys too and then input results into Excel!
- Focus groups or one-on-one interviews give you lots of qualitative data in a short period of time. Think about streamlining your questions across interviews so you can draw solid conclusions. In focus groups, consider having an independent person to administer so that participants feel comfortable to answer truthfully.
- It may be helpful to think about asking the same question in different ways so that you feel confident in the final result. You may also consider doing pre- and post-surveys so that you can more accurately assess changes. Think about variation in your questions with a scale of 3 or 5, etc.
Step 4: Execute Your Approach
As you think about executing your approach, make sure that you have set up your data collection so that it can be successful! Think about collecting demographic info or other questions that would help explain any unexpected results. Also, scaling back questions may help you be more effective depending on the audience. It is important to think about timing (which days, when during the day, etc.) and who is your knowledgeable audience. Would this audience be more likely to respond if they were incentive and do we have the resources for that? But don’t over think it! When in doubt, execute and learn from your efforts!
Next month in the third and final installment of this series, we will be discussing step 5 where you can use your data. Stay tuned!