These are those sets of data that have been observed and recorded by the researcher for the first time. These are collected from the ultimate or final sources of data like respondents and test subjects by approaching them directly. Collection of primary data involves a lot of time, money, and efforts on the part of the researcher. But these data are more genuine and reliable. These can be collected according to the needs of a particular research project.
Basically, there are only three techniques of collection of primary data. These are-personal interview, observation and questionnaire. Personal interviews can be arranged only in the field. Observation is also possible in the field. Questionnaires can be sent from home or an office.
1. Personal Interview:
Personal Interview is that type of field technique through which, an interviewer gathers data by personally interviewing the people. We will describe four types of personal interviews.
(a) Group Interviews:
In these interviews, the researcher goes to the field and talks to a group of persons (test subjects). He involves them in a discussion regarding the issue, product or thought. He makes them talk in a free manner i.e., he generally plans an open-end interview. He notes down the suggestions and comments on a piece of paper. Sometimes, he may tell one of the (senior) persons of the group to give a conclusion on the topic. He offers those freebies, cold drinks, snacks, and other incentives so that the group members may be keen to attend the interview session. Group interviews are losing their sheen because every person wants to be treated on an individual basis. However, school students, college/university students, nomads, villagers, and people belonging to SCs/STs can be interviewed through this method.
(b) Home Interviews:
In door-to-door interviewing, the field worker selects the category of homes on the basis of his subject matter whether he wants higher income group homes or group middle income group homes; or he can choose a particular sex or a particular age group as per his requirement.
Personal interviews at homes are more accurate and reliable because we can show our product to the interviewer in order to get his views about it. When we are interviewing a person we can see his facial expressions and judge whether he is giving us correct and relevant information or not. The interviewer can also change the sequence of his questions according to the respondents.
(c) Mall Intercept Interviews:
In mall intercepts interviews, the interviewer talks to interviewees in the mall or shopping centre. In the case of Mall Intercept Interviews, it becomes very convenient for the interviewer to select respondents. He interviews the selected people who have come there to enjoy the match.
In any case, the procedure adopted is generally biased because interviewers are likely to select those individuals who look friendly and show interest or the interview. In order to make it more genuine, specific occasions and locations can be chosen randomly. Besides, it can be specified that each person passing at that particular time would be selected for the interview.
(d) Conference Interviews:
Conference means a gathering of experts or specialists of a specific field. An interviewer can get vital sets of data in a conference. Experts speak on various topics related to a particular field in a conference. They give their views, speak about market trends and also, present data.
Interviewer can note down many things that he expects in his interviews. Besides, during tea-time or lunch-breakes, he can personally interview many people, who may not be ready to give time in their respective offices. As they are experts in their respective fields, they may not hesitate to speak on the subjects of their interest. Thus, information collected by this way may provide large sets of subject-specific data to researchers.
Observation is the second important technique of collecting data. It is process of observing people, objects and occurrences rather than asking for information. Observational evaluation is a hard work that requires a skilled, trained and competent evaluator to ensure good quality data. There are a number of variations in observational methods. The most fundamental difference among them refers to the role of the evaluation observer either as a full program participant, a detached spectator or somewhere in between.
(a) Direct Observation:
Direct observation involves the systematic noting and recording of activities, behaviours and physical objects in the evaluation setting as an unobtrusive observer. It can often be a rapid and economical way of obtaining basic socio-economic information on households or communities. The main advantage of this method is that if participants are not aware that they are being observed, then they are less likely to change their behaviour and compromise the validity of the evaluation:
(b) Participant Observation:
Participant observation is at one of the participation spectrum and consists of the evaluation observer becoming a member of the community or population being studied. The researcher participates in activities of the community, observes how people behave and interact with each other and outside organizations. The evaluator tries to become accepted as a neighbour or participant rather than as an outsider.
The purpose of such participation is not only to see what is happening but to feel what it is like to be part of the group. The extent to which this is possible depends on the characteristics of programme participants, the type of questions being studied and the socio-political context of the setting. The strength of this approach is that the researcher is able to experience and presumably better understand arise if the participant observer misrepresents himself/herself in order to be accepted by the community being studied.
A questionnaire is a list of questions related to the subject matter. Questions are asked from the people who are thought to have an interest in the subject. Questioning is usually faster and cheaper than observing. Less time is wasted in a questioning exercise. Questionnaires comprise a written set of questions that are answered by all respondents in a study.
Several different types of questions can be used. Closed questions seek a limited response. If a range of responses can be predicted in advance, for example, every colour-the respondent may be provided with a pre-set list of answers to choose from. At the other end of the scale, open questions allow the respondent to answer freely in their own words and are used when a more extensive response is being sought, for example, an explanation. Questionnaires are often used to assess, attitudes and respondents may be asked to choose a point on a scale, either semantic or numeric, to indicate how they perceive or feel about a situation.
The method of data collection chosen for a study should be appropriate for the type of information required. Whether the required information is quantitative or qualitative in nature is the major consideration. It would be time wasting to use unstructured interviews for essentially quantitative studies where information could be more efficiently collected through structured interviews or questionnaires.
Conversely, self completed questionnaires are generally unsuited to qualitative research even when there is space for comments or for respondents to express ideas the space is limited and requires respondents to have skills in articulation and literacy.