Primary Data Collection
Primary data is directly generated by the researcher. Household surveys are the prototypical example of primary data collection. Unlike Secondary Data Sources, primary data collection can be personally directed by the researcher to ensure it meets the standards of quality, availability, statistical power, and sampling required for a particular research inquiry. With globally increasing access to survey tools such as software, field manuals, and specialized firms, data collected and owned by the researcher has become the dominant method of empirical inquiry in development economics.
Types of primary data
The most common types of primary data are personal interviews. Depending on the research, these may take the form of household surveys, business (firm) surveys, or agricultural (farm) surveys. Some studies may include objective measurements such as Anthropometric Indicators.
Modes of primary data collection
Surveys can be conducted on paper (Pen-and-Paper Personal Interviews (PAPI)) or electronically (Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI)), or a combination of the two (Computer-Assisted Field Entry (CAFE)).
Preparing for primary data collection
The following are critical steps in preparing for primary data collection:
- Determine sampling frame
- Conduct sampling, based on Sample Size calculations, taking care to do so reproducibly
- Design and translate the survey instrument
- Pilot the Survey Instrument
- Program the survey instrument if data is being collected electronically
- Procure a Survey Firm, taking care to prepare detailed Terms of Reference
- Prepare for field work
- Create a Data Quality Assurance Plan
- Train data collectors
Oxfam provides a detailed case study of how to use electronic data collection (SurveyCTO) combined with Stata code to improve data quality in the field.