Types Of Data Collection Tools

Types Of Data Collection Tools


Content Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Observation schedule
  3. Interview guide
  4. Questionnaires
  5. Rating scale
  6. Checklist
  7. Data sheet
  8. Schedule for institutions 


A variety of tools or instruments can be used to gather or collect data from respondents and other stakeholders for a research study. These are enlisted below: 
  • Observation schedule 
  • Interview guide
  • Interview schedule 
  • Questionnaires 
  • Rating scale 
  • Checklist 
  • Data sheet 
  • Schedule for institutions

Observation schedule

The items to be observed are determined with reference to the nature and objectives of the study. They are grouped into appropriate categories and listed in the schedule in the order in which the observer would observe them. The research observer would then record these observations as per their occurrence. An example of this would be a study on the social interactions and behavior of preschool children in a closed setting such as an institution and the relation to their growth and development

The schedule must be devised in a way as to provide the required verifiable and quantifiable data and to avoid selective bias and misinterpretation of observed items. The units of observation must be simple, and meticulously worded so as to facilitate precise and uniform recording.

Interview guide

Interview guide serves as a suggestive reference or prompter during the interview. It aids in focusing attention on salient points relating to the study and in securing comparable data in different interviews by the same or different interviewers. It does not contain a complete list of items on which information has to be elicited from a respondent: it only contains the broad topics or areas to be covered in the interview.

Interviews can be conducted face-to-face or on telephone. They can range from in-depth, semi structured to structured depending on the information being sought. Face to face interviews are advantageous since detailed questions can be asked and further probing can easily be done especially in case of complex and unknown issues. The participants’ literacy level is not a deterrent in obtaining in depth data. Non-verbal data can be collected through observation, plus the response rates are usually higher than for self-administered questionnaires. 

Interview schedule

The interview schedule and mailed questionnaire are both used widely in surveys. Both are complete lists of questions on which information is elicited from the respondents. The basic difference between them lies in recording the responses. While the interviewer fills out a schedule, the questionnaire is filled by the respondent.

As in preparing a questionnaire, it is important to pilot test forms designed for the interviews. The best attempt to clarify and focus by the designer cannot anticipate all possible respondent interpretations. A small-scale test prior to actual use for data collection will assure better data and avoid wasting time and money. 


Questionnaire is a set of questions that has been prepared to collect answers from respondents relating to the research topic. A series of questions usually in printed or electronic form are to be answered by the individuals. When properly constructed and correctly administered, questionnaires become a vital instrument by which statements can be made about specific groups or people or the entire populations.

The questionnaire serves four basic purposes:
  • To collect appropriate data, 
  • To make data comparable and amenable to analysis, (
  • To minimize the bias in formulating and asking questions, and 
  • To make questions engaging and varied.
    A questionnaire requires respondents to fill out the forms themselves, and so requires a high level of literacy. Where multiple languages are common, questionnaires should be prepared using the major languages of the target group. Special care needs to be taken in these cases to ensure accurate translations.
In order to maximize the return rates, questionnaires should be designed to be as simple and clear as possible, with targeted sections and questions. Most importantly, questionnaires should also be as brief as possible. 
These can be sent to a large number of people and saves time and money. People are more truthful while responding to the questionnaires regarding controversial issues in particular due to the fact that their responses are anonymous. But they also have drawbacks. A majority of the people who receive questionnaires don't return them and those who do may not be representative of the originally selected sample. (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001)
2. Web based questionnaires
An increasingly growing methodology is the use of Internet based research. This would mean receiving an e-mail on which you would click on an address that would take you to a secure web-site to fill in a questionnaire. This type of research is often quicker and less detailed. Some disadvantages of this method include the exclusion of people who do not have a computer or are unable to access a computer. Also the validity of such surveys is question as people might be in a hurry to complete it and so might not give accurate responses. 

Rating scale

This is a recording form used for measuring individual's attitudes, aspirations and other psychological and behavioral aspects, and group behavior. A rating scale is more useful when a behavior needs to be evaluated on a continuum. They are also known as Likert scales. (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001).


It consists of a pre decided and drafted list of items pertaining to an object or a particular task. The presence or absence of each item may be indicated by checking 'yes' or 'no' or multipoint scale. The use of a checklist ensures a more complete consideration of all aspects of the object, act or task. Checklists contain terms, which the respondent understands, and which more briefly and succinctly express his views than answers to open-ended question. It may be used as an independent tool or as a part of a schedule/questionnaire. Either the researcher or survey participant simply checks whether each item on the list is observed, present or true or vice versa. (Leedy and Ormrod, 2001)

Data sheet

This is a list of items of information to be obtained from documents, records and other materials. In order to secure measurable data, the items included in the schedule are limited to those that can be uniformly secured from a large number of case histories or other records. 

Schedule for institutions

This is used for survey of organizations like business enterprises, educational institutions, social or cultural organizations and the like. It will include various categories of data relating to their profile, functions and performance. These data are gathered from their records, annual reports and financial statements.


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