Before you undertake any project it is a good idea to become familiar with different types of data collection methodology. Whether you use a data collection template you find from someone else or come up with your own is irrelevant, as long as you have a sound understanding of the data collection methodology you want to use and how it applies to your research.
Different Types of Data Collection Methodology
There are two types of data collection methodology – quantitative and qualitative. A quantitative data collection methodology relies on sampling and structuring of data collection so that diverse experiences can be placed into predetermined response categories. Results received from these methods are very easy to compare and summarize.
The primary method of the quantitative methodology is to test against a hypothesis to detect whether or not what is being studied is in fact present. I know this sounds very general, but using a quantitative data collection methodology strive to have accurate and easily measurable results. This system works great for gathering large amounts of data over a great area and then condenses that information down into something that is easy to study and use.
Typical gather strategies of this data collection methodology include experimental and clinical trials, observing and recording well defined events like counting the number of people in line to get into the zoo, obtaining data from management information systems, and administering surveys with closed ended questions, basically A,B,C or True and False questions.
For the the quantities data collection methodology to be successful you must have proper questions or data to study. Only by doing your research before hand can you hope to have the results from data gained through this method be at all useful.
The other type of data collection methodology, qualitative, is much more open ended. These are interactive interviews where the subject will respond and be able to give their opinion. Qualitative studies will usually take far longer to complete than a quantitative and may involve multiple interviews with the subjects.
Results are usually gathered by comparing many different subjects and looking for trends in data. A qualitative method is usually much more complicated then its counterpart.
Depending on the nature of your study it should be obvious which method will work better for you. Each of the methods has its own place and in fact both may be used in the same project. You can sometimes mix the data collection methodologies to increase the accuracy of your data or for special tailored sections. In my experience I have found that any good study will use pieces of each to find the best results.