Importance of Face-to-Face Data Collection for Research Designs with Human Sampling

This article’s sole goal is to talk with aspirants and students of bachelor’s and master’s degrees completing their mandatory research work for an academic project whose sample is the human population.

In 2009, as a first-year college student at Delhi University, I visited the office of (Pvt Ltd) Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, for a part-time surveyor job. While waiting to talk with the center in charge, I heard the conversation of senior surveyors there and learned a lot. What they were talking about is amazing. One of them said, that when we had the TATA sky survey, we earned a lot, but we had taken appointments from VIP people (Samples of rich and officers) to record their responses, and missing any of these interviews was a great loss. This conversation stated three things:

  1. How important it was to record the responses of their target population.

  2. They were producing reliable, first-hand data, with minimum errors.

  3. All the respondents filled questionnaire with peace in front of a surveyor.

Approximately 8 million students graduate in India every year. Even if 12.5% of total graduates complete a dissertation as a part of their graduation, still 1 million students do a dissertation. But not all dissertations are good enough to be published as research papers, and 99.99 percent end up in college garbage.

A few weeks ago, I read a post from one LinkedIn member, stating that because he kept the company of one senior, he published three articles during his graduation and how he got selected for a Ph.D. with a scholarship!

Well, I am not biased to inform you of this; instead, I would be honest about myself here. I did not publish a paper in BA or MA. Even my Ph.D. papers came in 2020 and then in 2022, first in the 6th year of the Ph.D.

If you are working seriously on a research project where your research guide assists you for months but still sends your questionnaire to random people, most of you are not taking your research work seriously.

Why did I say it?

When you send a Google form (surveys, inventories) to random groups, it not only delays data collection, but the data collected through such careless efforts has an error where participants keep replying without reading the full questions. Often, such data are not reliable and are said to be incomplete.

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Fig 1: Advantages and Disadvantages of web-based research (surveys) by Hoonakker, P. (2009).

Is it a student’s mistake if the research data is incorrect?

Research errors in data collection, thesis, and dissertation are not mistakes for which students should be held accountable; instead, their professors and mentors should be questioned about the poor research work.

I know some colleges that appointed fresh postgraduate students as faculty members in some departments just to save some money. Such fresher lecturers who often are not trained in publication and research, when appointed as supervisors for undergraduate students, won’t be able to guide them well.

The senior have more experience and can guide anyone on what type of sampling technique and research methodology will be best for a particular research topic, such as accidental sampling or purposive sampling, a questionnaire survey, or a survey with a schedule.

Also, when you select a research guide, always go with someone who has some experience, but again, don’t choose an ill or rigid supervisor, as my Ph.D. supervisor did not let me submit my Ph.D. thesis when I told her that I would not write a Ph.D. like her old students, which were 300–400 pages. There was one more reason why my Ph.D. supervisor did not like me, which I have mentioned on my startup’s website, and you can read it there.

Additionally, do you believe that if you send random people your research questionnaire, they will read all the instructions and then fill it out honestly? If you know we are living in a country where less than 10% of graduates understand English very well and some of these people also need instructions on the research questionnaires, you will stop forwarding your research questionnaires link (Google Forms) in random WhatsApp groups.

It took me 3 years to collect data on 200 samples, of which 51%+ were poorly and carelessly filled out in my intervention-based pre-post assessment design of research, where I instructed my sample face-to-face and also cleared their doubts about any question, they were unable to understand, giving a break of 10 minutes in between two different questionnaires. Still, I had to recollect data to reach a justifiable sample size of 120 people (30 in each group for a four-group study). Don’t you all believe that your survey, correlational, case study, or interview-based research is good, and that people should take it seriously?

If yes, then they will not take it seriously unless you do.

Please come out of your comfort zones and start visiting the colleges, schools, and workspaces to get the right sample size with the right type of population for your research.

I am not claiming that you will be warmly welcomed everywhere when you go for data collection. But if you do good work and explain to your participants and their managers, principals, and teachers the importance of your research work, and if your questions are related to everyday life, You can provide individuals with their results with objective interpretation; why would not they take part in your research?

In the end, I would like to say that please get out of your comfortable study rooms, and libraries and do actual fieldwork!

This article’s sole goal is to talk with aspirants and students of bachelor’s and master’s degrees completing their mandatory research work for an academic project whose sample is the human population. In 2009, as a first-year college student at Delhi…

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