Tips for writing your data collection procedures

Quantitative Methodology

Your data collection plan is a crucial key to developing a sound study. The plan indicates how you will access and gather information from your participants. A clear data collection plan at the proposal stage can alleviate stress and ensure that future researchers can replicate your study. Additionally, a clear data collection plan will help ensure that you obtain the information you need to answer your research questions. Below are some suggestions for creating a solid data collection plan.

First, it may be helpful to outline your steps. This allows you to see where your data collection procedures must begin and end. This should include all of the steps that you will take from the time that you obtain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to the time that your data is collected and ready for analysis. A simple bulleted list of the steps you plan to conduct will suffice for this step.

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From there, cross reference this list with your research questions and the variables in each research question. Make sure you have an instrument to measure each variable and you have included each of these instruments in your outline. Once you have developed an outline that includes all of the necessary instruments, you can move on to writing a full detailed draft of your data collection procedures. However, before you do that, you may want to take some time to have an accountability partner review your work. This should be a person who can be a sounding board and who can provide basic feedback on your work. Describe the purpose of your study, the research questions, and the data you will need to access to address your research questions. Let them review your outline and double check to ensure that all necessary data collection steps are presented.

Now you are ready to turn your outline into the data collection draft. Observe the appropriate tone and wording as you turn your outline into a doctoral level narrative. Imagine this as a recipe that your dissertation committee, IRB, and future researchers can use to understand and replicate your study. The draft should be succinct, clear, and comprehensive.

Once you have completed the narrative, you can compare it to the outline to make sure everything is addressed. You should also review your school’s template or guidelines for the data collection section to ensure that all the required points have been addressed.