Data collection is the systematic process of gathering and recording data to answer research questions, test hypotheses, or achieve specific research objectives. It is a crucial phase of the research process that seeks to obtain data from individuals, documents, surveys, experiments, observations, or other sources depending on the research methodology and goals. 

Effective data collection is essential for producing reliable and valid research results, as the quality of the data directly impacts the validity and generalizability of research findings. Researchers must carefully plan and execute the data collection process to ensure the integrity of their research.

Collecting Primary Data

Before proposing and initiating any research activity involving primary data collection, researchers should verify with the Office of Research and the Office of Environmental Health & Safety whether their project qualifies as regulated research, as some studies may be subject to specific campus or governmental regulations and policies, as well as required training.

Collecting Secondary Data

See Finding and Accessing Data for more information on available data sources and methods to identify and obtain secondary data.

Recommended Resources

  • Survey Research
    • Qualtrics - License

      • A web-based data collection tool that can be used to conduct surveys, analyze responses, and other data research activities licensed and available to affiliates.
    • Qualtrics - Support
      • The DREAM Lab provides support to set up Qualtrics surveys for research and university business. 
  • Text Data Mining (TDM)
    • Text Data Mining Libguide
      • A research guide that offers recommendations and local resources to support researchers interested in text data mining (TDM).
  • DataONE Best Practices