Primary research is a key part of your dissertation and will provide the reader with specific insight into your topic. Your data will be unique and personal to your chosen subject, which is why in order for your dissertation to be a success, it is important that you are able to collect a reliable and consistent set of data. However, collecting data can often prove costly and time-consuming. In order to help you reduce your costs and save time when collecting data, we have created a list of tips and tricks. Here are five cheap and easy methods to consider when undertaking primary research.
Primary research collection is normally divided into two groups: observation and direct communication. Observational methods of collecting data are usually very expensive and take much longer to do. Therefore, if you are looking to save on time and costs, direct communication is the way to go. One of the most common methods of direct communication is to use paper questionnaires. These are relatively inexpensive to produce, especially if you use double-sided paper and have the potential to reach a wide target audience.
The rise of the Internet has made it a lot easier to communicate with each other quickly online. So, why not use this to your advantage and create an online survey to gather your primary research? Quicker and cheaper than using paper questionnaires, online surveys will still enable you to reach a large target audience, whilst at the same time being easier to use for both participant and researcher. You can carefully design your survey to suit your target audience; for example, using diagrams, colours and different fonts. The data collected will be easy to transfer and analyse and there’ll be no risk of questionnaire papers lost down the side of the bed!
Another time and cost-effective method, telephone interviews are a popular choice when it comes to primary research collection. If each interview lasts between 5-10 minutes, a lot of data can be collected over a short time period. Being well-rehearsed is key here; you will only have a limited window to obtain the answers you need. Keeping questions brief and to the point will ensure you get the most accurate spread of data, whilst also making sure the participant does not get bored or misinterpret what they are being asked.
If you’re looking for a method that will give you varied and detailed data; the face-to-face interview is one of the best options. Another relatively cheap way of collecting data, using interviews will ensure that you can explore topics in depth, build a rapport with your participants and tailor the interview questions to each individual. If you’re someone who works best talking to people in person and you want to base your data on physical observations and conversations, this is the method for you. However, be careful that you don’t make the interviews too varied, as this could cause inconsistencies.
One of the ultimate ways to save time and money while conducting primary research is to use students as a target audience or focus group. After all, you’re surrounded by thousands of students every day, of all ages, ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. This makes it very easy to select certain groups for your primary research. Plus, students are used to participating in studies or experiments and will happily fill out questionnaires or surveys for free, or especially if there is an incentive to do so, such as vouchers or free food and drink! Alternatively – offer yourself as their primary research participant!