Factors to Be Considered by Researchers When Defining Data Collection

Data are materials or information gathered during the process of making inquiry about problems. “Data of whatever form do not just appear or lie around waiting to be causally picked up by some passing researcher but have to be given form and shape in other to quantify as data; made relevant in a word to a research problem” (Ackryod and Hughes, 1992). In other words, data are systematically collected groups of information that represent either qualitative or quantitative results. From the point of view of social research, the world only exist as data and data can exist only through the interpretations placed on materials gathered from the world”(Williams and May,1996). This essay question will be looking at factors that should be considered to define data of a study.

Looking at two empirical researches based on injecting drug users Study 1 looked at a community based cross-sectional survey among out of treatment male opiate injecting drug users (IDU) between ages 15 to 45.Data on nonfatal overdose were collected using a semi-structured questionnaire from 299 IDU from two district of Bac Ninh in North Vietnam in 2003. Study 2 examines the range of HCV services that treatment programs provide to their HCV positive clients using data collected from 233 drug free and methadone maintenance treatment programs (MMTPS) throughout the united state.

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Although findings indicated that MMTPS offer more HCV services to more of their HCV positive clients than drug free programs, but drug free programs provided more individualized services.Researchers are people that make inquiry into things that are obscure to human and tend to find possible solutions to this problem. They must put some factors into consideration to determine the type of data to be collected such as: aims and objectives of the research, research design, sampling strategies, methods research strategy, data collection technique, reliability, validity and ethics of the research. “The research process usually begins with the theoretical perception or formulation of the research topic” (Sarantakos, 2005).According to Gilbert (2001) theoretical perspective are not just important as elements of good research practice, but also enormous value in inspiring and stimulating us to ask new question. This is also supported by Ackroyd and Hughes (1992) saying theory is a veritable feast of notions, viewpoints, perspectives, abstractions and ideas which plays different roles in sociological enquiry. Theory gives explanation on something that one would find difficult to understand.

“Theories ought to be firmly based on data if they are to be useful in understanding social world” (Gilbert, 2001).Theory could be generated deductively or inductively. Gilbert (2001) said that inductive theory has to do with moving from a known knowledge to unknown, quantitative research makes use of this while deductive theory begins with a theory and use it to explain an observation, qualitative research makes use of this. Study 2 hypothesized that because MMTPs serve a greater portion of IDUs than drug free programs, it is expected that it will offer more comprehensive services for their HCV positive clients. The two articles made use of an inductive theory because they both used quantitative methodAims and objectives of the research is also another factor that determines data collection. “The aims and methods of research is to put links between the empirical world and theoretical perception” (Ackryod and Hughes, 1992).

For example, the aims and objectives of the study 1 were to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer network intervention in reducing HIV and STD transmission and to assess the prevalence and characteristics associated with non-fatal drug overdose among IDUs between 18-45 years in North Vietnam.Here, the researcher is interested in knowing the features and the total number of people using non-fatal drug overdose within a specific age group injecting drugs into their body in Tu son and and Bac Ninh township, North Vietnam. Data collected here will only be within a particular age group from only the two districts.

The aims and objectives of study 2 are to evaluate the effectiveness for addressing drug users’ HCV needs using expert in hepatitis and drug addiction and to know the types of services provided by HCV service delivery to the HCV positive injecting and non-injecting drug users in USA.Based on the objective, data collected must be from all HCV service delivery in all the states. Research design is the criteria used when evaluating social research.

“The function of research design is to ensure that evidence obtained enabled us to answer the initial questions as unambiguously as possible” (De Vaus, 2005). It has been suggested that every research needs a design or structure before data collection or analysis begins. Good research design should make it possible for generalization and possible valid inferences from the data.Study 1 and study 2 used a cross-sectional design . According to Burton (2000) cross-sectional design uses data collected from at least two groups at one point in time and compare the extent to which they differ. For example, in study 1 survey among out of treatment male opiate IDU age 18-45 with population of 299, data on non-factual overdose were collected from two Bac Ninh district which are Bac Ninh township and Tu Son in North Vietnam in 2009. While in study 2 survey among drug treatment program was collected throughout the USA from 2001 to 2003.

Bryman (2004) suggested that in order to examine association between two variables, it is necessary to have a systematic and standardized method for gauging variation. In study 1, in other for the interviewer to ensure a standardized definition of overdose, a description of common signs and symptoms of overdose due to opioid use was read out. Cross-sectional design does not ensure validity of data because data were only collected at a point which might not be a true representative of the study sample.A much preferred design that would have been preferable will be the use of longitudinal design because most especially for study 2, it will ensure reliability of the data collected by asking the organisation same question over again.

The major disadvantage of this study is that it does not give access to generalization of the population creating a kind of bias since******** research is based on the views of organisations concerning the use of treatment programs. According to Babbie(2007) Longitudinal study permit the observation of the study sample over a period of time especially for an in-depth interview.Longitudinal can be more difficult for quantitative studies such as large survey in study 2, nevertheless, they are the best way to study changes over time “A sampling method is a technique of collecting information about some members of the population” (De Vaus, 2002). They way participant are selected could affect data collection in a way that selecting wrong participant could lead to wrong gathering of information so it is important to define the target group from the population.

“The two sampling approaches are probability and non-probability sampling”(Burton,2000).Study 1 used a non-probability sample example include snowball sampling while study 2 used probability approach example is random sampling. The difference between probability and non-probability sample is that: “ Probability sample is one in which each person in the population has an equal, or at least a known chance of being selected while in a non-probability sample, some people have a greater but unknown chance than others of selection”(De Vaus, 1996 pg:60). “Snow ball sampling refers to the process of accumulation as each located subject suggests other subject” (Babbie, 2007).

In this type of sample, researcher gathers data on the few members of the target population that can be located. In study 1, the IDU were recruited by 20 trained current and former drug using peer outreach workers through a snow ball-sampling approach in Bac Ninh. “Statistical theory states that the most reliable way of obtaining a representative sample is to use random sampling whereby each case, whether that be an individual, household, or organisation has an equal probability of being selected”(Burton,2000 pg:309).Here, a researcher has equal chances of selecting members of the study population. In study 2, project staff made telephone calls to screen for eligibility a group of randomly selected drug treatment programs that were listed in the year 2000 inventory of substance abuse treatment database. Non-probability sampling is a useful method of sampling where the researcher is interested in respondent within the sample size as opposed to making wide generalization.

Limited resources, inability to identify members of the population and the need to establish the existence of a problem all justify the use of non-probability sampling” (Burton, 2000 pg: 316) Babbie (2007, pg: 187) argued that non-probability sampling cannot guarantee that the sample observed is a true representative of the whole population and is supported by Henry (1990) that as a result of the subjective nature of the selection process, involved in non-probability sampling ,there is a risk that the result will not be valid due to bias in section process. Probability samples are often regarded as the preferable way of obtaining samples that is true representative of the population” (Burton, 2000 pg 309). The major strength of probability sample is that the selection allows the development of statistical theory to examine the attributes of sample estimators to reduce bias. Coomber (1997) argued that probability sampling becomes a problem if the information needed to construct a sampling frame is absent. If not done properly, probability sampling can generate different types of error.Bryman and Cramer (1993) suggested that response rates on sample survey are sometimes so low that there is no great difference between probability and non-probability sample. Research methods are ways of gathering materials in research. There are two ways of collecting and collating materials which are quantitative and qualitative method.

Quantitative method is the use of statistical analyses, real figures to collect data from the environment without subjective interference of the researchers. “The aim of the research is to collect fact about society which can be statistically analysed” (Gilbert, 2001).Quantitative data makes observation more explicit and can make it easier to summarise aggregate and compare data. Both study used quantitative study but the disadvantage of this type of method is that it does not give rich meaning to a study due to the fact that it is making use of statistics unlike qualitative data which gives a richer and in-depth meaning to a social phenomenon .

According to Strauss and Corbin (1990) qualitative methods broadly define means any kind of research that produces findings not arrived by means of statistical procedures or other means of quantification.The aim of qualitative research is to offer a view of a situation and provide a written research reports that shows the research reports that shows the researchers ability to illustrate phenomena but its disadvantage is that it deals with just verbal description. Surveys are the most common and best method used for of data collection in social research, and it is useful in collecting original data for describing a population too large to be observed .According to Sarantakos (2005), surveys are methods of data collection in which information is gathered through oral or written questioning. For example, study 1used a semi-structured questionnaire survey which is a type of written questioning while study 2 used interviewing which is a type of oral questioning.

Survey research according to Babbie(2007) offers advantages in terms of economy, the amount of data that can be collected and the chance to sample a large population. In study 1, the survey was carried out in 2 district with the total population as 185825.The disadvantages of survey is that it is difficult to to gain a full sense of social processes in their natural processes. “ In general, survey research is comparatively weak on validity and strong on reliability” (Babbie, 2007) Using a semi- structured questionnaire in study 1, the respondent must be put in mind. In study 1 for example bearing in mind the respondent,, the semi-structured questionnaire was translated into their native language which is Vietnamese for the respondent to be able to understand what it is all about. t could explore large number of people’s view.

399 participants in study 1 had face to face interviews and the questionnaires included questions on demographic characteristics, history of drug use, sexual behaviour to mention a few. The tendency of a questionnaire survey to ask rigid questions which force respondent answer into particular categories which they may not have thought of is one of the reasons why it is preferable to use interview as an alternative”(Valentine, 1997: 110) Study 2 used telephone interview.Interviewing is a type of research method that does not ask fixed answer questions.

. “Quatitative interview may be used either as a primary strategy for data collection or in conjunction with observation, document analysis, or other techniques” (Bogdan and Biklen, 1982). The use of telephone interview in study 2 for initial screening process reduces cost of interviewing a large number of programs across the 50 states in United States. According to Sarantakos (2005), interview is employed when the interview are simple and brief, when quick and inexpensive result are sought.In this study, the interview was conducted for 3 hours which might prove too strenuous, difficult and time consuming for the respondent. “Telephone interviews enable researcher to gather information rapidly and allow for some personal contact between the interviewer and respondent” (Kvale, 1996)*****.

. I The advantage of this method is that it produces quick result, and allow more open communication since the respondent is not confronted with the interviewer. The disadvantages of this method is high refusal rate.In study 2, 614 programs were interviewed during screening, but just 233 programs participated in the study.

********Using sampling size in study 2 might not be a good way of recruiting program services from the whole of 53 countries in the state because it might not be a true representative of the programs********* The advantages of interview over questionnaire are that it answers the Why questions rather than just the how many, how often. For example, in study 2 the interviewers ask questions on the organisational characteristics of the program as well as demographic information about the clients in the programValidity and reliability of data collection is very important during research. Babbie (2007) defined validity as the extent to which an empirical measure adequately reflects the meaning of the concepts under consideration and reliability is a matter of whether a particular technique when applied repeatedly to the same object yield the same result at the same time. In study 2, in other to collect most reliable and valid data, interviewers generally conducted the telephone survey with several different staff each responding to their areas of expertise.In study 1,. Field were tested to ensure adaptability to local Vietnamese context.

ELISA technique was used for HIV testing and univariate analysis was performed to test the associations of having overdosed in the past 12 months. Researchers must put into consideration the ethics and values of the participants. According to Sarantakos (2005), the researcher becomes aware of a lot of ethical consideration during the process of data collection. An important aspect of ethical consideration is “veracity, voluntary participation and confidentiality”.In study 1, participant were provided with written voluntary consent form which contains the detailed information on the purpose of the study and potential benefits and risk of participation which was read by a trained and experienced Vietnamese interviewers at the study site.

In study 2, the interviewers described the purpose of the research to the participant through the telephone, gave a number of assurance concerning the voluntary nature the research and the confidentiality of responses.Some of the participant gave their consent and continued with the interview while some decline participation. It is important to take into consideration the limitation of the method used during data collection. In study 1, the use snowballing sampling is unlikely that the sample will be representative of the population even though the interviewers claimed that recruitment of hidden population through peers has been successful in obtaining a broad sample. A better method would have been random selection.The second limitation of study I is that representativeness of the entire IDU population in the province can not be ascertained despite the fact that three fourths of the registered IDU were recruited from provincial level of government records of registered IDUs because there could be possibility of under-reporting and institutionalization of IDUs In study 2, the data reflected the provision of HCV services by drug treatment program from the person most knowledgeable about the medical services provided at the program, this will not give a rue data collection because the program managers may have over-reported the quality of services provided by the program. Clients assessing the programs should have been interviewed instead, these would have supplied accurate information about the program and the data would have reflected the view of the clients In conclusion,



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