5 easy and cheap ways to collect primary research

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.

Paper Questionnaires

 

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.

Online Surveys

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!

Tip

Using social media is a quick and effective way of making sure lots of people fill out your online questionnaire. The social media survey can reach much more people over a shorter space of time than a solid copy of your data collection method. Use a common survey creator such as Survey Monkey and then promote your survey on Facebook or Twitter! It is easy and maintains a neat and professional looking method for data collection.

Telephone Interviews

 

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.

Cheap and easy to regulate and conduct, large target audience can be reached, less ‘robotic’ than online surveys and questionnaires; you can tell how sincere participants’ answers are.

Can be hard to control, e.g. if participants don’t answer or hang up. May be hard to get detailed answers from participants.

Rehearse your questions out loud several times before the interviews so that you won’t forget questions, pause, or say the wrong thing. A confident interviewer who moves quickly and smoothly through each interview will get better data. The more interviews you do, the better they’ll be!

Primary Research with Direct Interviews

 

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.

Lots of data to use, relaxed atmosphere, can be conducted at any time, flexibility of interview structure/questions.

Risk of interview bias, not the easiest data collection method to arrange, possibility of too much variety.

Face-to-face interviews are really useful if you need to collect lots of information and detail. However, you’ll need to make sure that you still follow a basic structure for each interview and try to control the environment as much as possible.

Choose Students for your primary research

 

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!

Thousands of participants to choose from, potential for varied data, easy to arrange times and dates e.g. using student union meeting rooms

Students can be unreliable, possibility of interviewer/interviewee bias

If you’re going to use a focus group, make sure you carefully select your participants to ensure you get the most out of your data.

01/07/2016