There are several ways to collect data -- if you are looking to collect plenty of data quickly from people, the best methods to use include questionnaires, checklists and surveys. These types of methods are inexpensive and allow for significant amounts of data collection. However, while it is relatively easy to analyze data using the aforementioned methods, the data may be biased.
Holding interviews is another method of collecting data. This method is suitable if you are looking to understand another person’s experiences and impressions. While it does provide comprehensive information, it may be costly and time consuming.
If you are looking to collect accurate information about a particular program, including the manner in which it operates as well as its processes, the ideal data collection method is observation. This method allows a researcher to view the operations and processes of a program, but it does provide certain challenges, such as difficulty in interpreting the behaviors of the program.
Other collections methods include focus groups and case studies.
When it comes to analyzing data, you first need to sort out the data collected in meaningful sequences for easy analysis and report preparation. If you are dealing with numerical data, the analysis process could involve calculating averages, percentages or summations. The analysis could also involve comparing the data to determine the relationship of two things.
When making an analysis of your data, ensure that your sources are reputable and respected. Pay attention to information that seems biased or inaccurate, and check for anomalies as well.
You may also use a data analysis tool to help you analyze your data. Free software available for data analysis includes Data Applied, PAW, DataMelt and Microsoft Excel.