Primary Data Collection

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Primary data is data directly collected by the researcher through surveys, interviews or experiments. Household surveys are the prototypical example of primary data. Researchers can personally direct primary data collection to ensure that data meets the standards of quality, availability, statistical power and sampling required for a particular research question. With globally increasing access to survey tools and software, field manuals, and specialized survey firms, primary data has become the dominant source for empirical inquiry in development economics.

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  • The large majority of primary data comes from personal interviews. Depending on the research, these may take the form of household surveys, business (firm) surveys, or agricultural (farm) surveys.
  • Primary data collection typically requires a great deal of foresight, planning and coordination. Steps to preparing and conducting primary data collection follow.


The following are critical steps in preparing for and conducting primary data collection:

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This article is part of the topic Primary Data Collection

Additional Resources

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.