Data Collection and Bias in Qualitative Study

The major goal of qualitative research is finding out the feelings and opinions of people in regard to particular phenomena (Sutton 2015). The process of looking for these thoughts is not an easy task. However, researchers have at their disposal a variety of data collection methods to choose from, such as individual interviews or surveys, observations, ethnographic research, action research, case studies, and grounded theory (Anderson 2013; Neuman 2014). For the current research, a survey is the most suitable data collection tool. Surveys have a number of benefits as well as some limitations. In each specific research, it is necessary to analyze these advantages and disadvantages in order to get the best out of the former and eliminate the adverse outcomes of the latter.

The major benefit of surveys is that their development is usually simple and does not take much time. A researcher may create a set of questions that incorporate crucial aspects of the study, and then participants answer these questions to give an insight into the matter of the issue under analysis. In the majority of cases, surveys are cost-effective, which makes it easier for researchers to conduct their studies. If survey questions are developed in a thoughtful way, it is possible to gain ultimate reliability of findings (Silverman 2013). Another advantage of surveys is that they enable researchers to collect a wide range of data such as beliefs, opinions, perceptions, values, and attitudes (Rowley 2012).

Moreover, it is possible to gather answers from many respondents since there is no need for a personal approach to each stakeholder. Every person who agrees to engage in a survey receives the same set of questions, and the researcher does not need to look for specific methods when working with different people. One more benefit of surveys is that because of standardization, they are almost always free from some errors that may be present in other data collection methods.

A researcher also needs to take into consideration the limitations of a survey prior to choosing it as a tool for gathering data. The principal disadvantage is that respondents do not always reflect a sufficient level of honesty and accuracy when giving answers. Also, people do not tend to reply to questions that may present them negatively. Sometimes, participants may not remember the events which they are asked about, or they may feel bored, which leads to the unreliability of replies.

Another limitation of surveys is that if a researcher chooses to ask closed-ended questions, the validity level of the outcomes is low. Finally, there is a great problem concerned with the researcher’s personal beliefs and assumptions (Collis & Hussey 2013). Frequently, researchers’ biases prevent them from collecting the most subjective data on the analyzed issues.

In order to overcome the challenges associated with the management and analysis of data collected through a survey, it is necessary for a researcher to be reflexive before the research process as well as in its course (Sutton 2015). Also, it is crucial to reach the highest validity of study results (Siccama & Penna 2008). Not only should researchers avoid or reject their biases, but they also should clearly define their attitudes and subjectivities. By using such an approach, researchers make it easier for participants to realize the filters employed when asking questions and collecting data (Sutton 2015). Therefore, it is necessary to minimize researchers’ biases to reach the most reliable results.

Reference List

Anderson, V 2013, Research methods in human resource management, 3rd edn, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London.

Collis, J & Hussey, R 2013, Business research: a practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students, 4th edn, Palgrave-MacMillan, London.

Neuman, WL 2014, Social research methods: qualitative and quantitative approaches, 7th edn, Pearson, Harlow.

Rowley, J 2012, ‘Conducting research interviews’, Management Research Review, vol. 35, no. 3/4, pp. 260-271.

Siccama, CJ & Penna, S 2008, ‘Enhancing validity of a qualitative dissertation research study by using NVIVO’, Qualitative Research Journal, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 91-103.

Silverman, D 2013, Doing qualitative research, 4th edn, SAGE, London.

Sutton, J 2015, ‘Qualitative research: data collection, analysis, and management’, The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, vol. 68, no. 3, pp. 226-231.

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