Gathering the Data
As discussed in Chapter 5, the type of analysis employed and its purpose substantially dictate the nature of the data needed. In practice, however, many types of analysis (and, therefore, of research project) are difficult or impossible to carry out because suitable data gathering techniques are not available. The invention of new methods of collecting data or the improvement of existing ones can therefore have a substantial impact on the research done in a particular field, as witness the impact of the Web on the ease with which government reports or company information can be obtained. At the higher levels of research, just as the development of new methods of analysis is often a good route to success so, too, is introduction of novel approaches to data gathering or of major refinements to techniques already in use. There are two categories: primary data that the researcher collects through observation, experiment, and so on; and secondary data that have been collected by others.