Step 7: Collecting & Collating Your Data

Your decision about the type of research method you’re using in your project will inform how you collect and collate your data.

Qualitative Data

Qualitative data collection encompasses any data that is not numerical.

It can be gathered using a variety of techniques typically including:

  • interviews
  • focus groups
  • observations.

Your data may include audio-visual materials or transcripts. If you need to identify themes and sub-themes then you’re collecting qualitative data.

You’ll also want to keep a researcher diary. Your researcher diary will include a step-by-step account of your research project and reflective notes of any decision that informs the direction of your research project or your data analysis.

Quantitative Data Collection

Quantitative data collection is anything you can measure or count.

It can be gathered using a variety of techniques, typically including:

  • surveys and questionnaires
  • interviews and observations.

If your data include routine statistics, usage figures or can easily be reduced to categories and counts then you’re collecting quantitative data. For example, multiple choice, tick box and yes/no options in a questionnaire can all be analysed quantitatively.

If your data are collected by more than one person it’s important the everyone is recording or counting things in the same way.

Mixed Methods Data Collection

Mixed methods data collection includes both qualitative and quantitative data collection either collected at the same time, or sequentially, first one form of data collection followed by the other.

The following resources provide more details:

Storing your Data

Your data, including signed consent forms, should be securely stored.

Your electronic files should be stored on a password protected computer, while paper files should be stored in a locked cabinet.

The Medical Research Council advised that basic research data should be stored for a minimum of ten years from the end of a research project, though local policies may vary.

The following will help inform your decisions on storing your research data:

Data Protection

If you collect personal data within the European Union then your activity may be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This means you’ll need a legal basis for processing personal data.  The most common legal basis for processing personal research data are consent, public interest (public task) or legitimate interest.

If you’ve anonymised the data you’ve collected from an individual so that they’re no longer identifiable, your data is not classed as personal data.

Here are some useful resources regarding data protection and anonymising your data:

Suggested Reading

Next Steps

Provides an overview of qualitative research methods and data collection techniques, including case studies, and how you might  use them in practice.

Now that you’ve collected and collated your data it’s time to do some data analysis.  Go to Step 8.