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Data sources and collection methods. Ken Mease Cairo, June 2009. What types of Data?. A thorough assessment may well include: Archival and secondary data Survey data Quantitative and qualitative approaches and data It also will likely include de jure and de facto information.

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Data sources and collection methods

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Data sources and collection methods

Ken Mease

Cairo, June 2009

What types of Data?

A thorough assessment may well include:

  • Archival and secondary data

  • Survey data

  • Quantitative and qualitative approaches and data

  • It also will likely include de jure and de facto information

Qualitative and Quantitative data

  • There are basically two types of data: qualitative and quantitative

  • Qualitative data are usually text or words and quantitative data - numbers

  • Qualitative approaches, if conducted in a rigorous manner, require more skill than most quantitative approaches

Qualitative Data and Approaches

  • Qualitative approaches provide text data, but increasingly audio, video and images

  • They are more time consuming to analyze

  • Text management software, such as NVIVO, AtlasTI and AnSWR (available free at

  • Coding is a very subjective process and open to various problems, such as investigator bias or a lack of inter-coder reliability

Quantitative Data and Approaches

  • Quantitative approaches provide increased rigor by investigating relationships at known levels of probability

  • They are easier to analyze because researchers use standard, replicable techniques

  • Common software includes SPSS, Stata and SAS

Country reports/desk studies

Cross-country (region)comparative surveys

Expert assessments

Government data

Household surveys

Mass opinion surveys

Key Stakeholder Surveys

Media Indicators

Business surveys

Sources and Types of Governance Data

Combining different sources and methods

  • Combining methodologies and types of data often provides the most useful results.

  • Combining archival information and administrative data with original qualitative and quantitative survey data allows for triangulation

  • This approach can increase the level of professionalism, credibility and legitimacy.

Administrative, archival and secondary

These data, both qualitative and quantitative, objective, reported events, perception and proxies come from a variety of sources:

  • Narrative reports, administrative data and other information routinely collected by government ministries

  • The constitution, laws, policies and legislation

  • Statistics and data gathered by NGOs, international organizations and academics.

Data Mapping

  • It is the best way to identify existing data - accessibility, quality and gaps

  • One tool available to assist with this process is the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework

  • A senior academic conducted the data mapping exercise in Zambia and was very valuable

Survey Data

  • Qualitative and Quantitative

  • Sample sizes can range from 20 to 20,000 or more

  • Costs can range accordingly

  • There are a range of options for who collects the data – independent surveys firms, academics, NSOs

  • Perception and reported events data

Different Types of Interviewing

  • Structured interviews use an identical instrument for each respondent,

  • Interviewers are trained and have explicit instructions.

  • This technique uses primarily structured questions with fixed response sets and very few open-ended questions

Types of Interviewing

  • Semi-structured interviews use a written list of questions that need to be covered in a particular order

  • The questions are often developed from informal discussions and focus groups.

  • They can include open-ended and/or more structured questions

  • Ideal when working with elites, managers, bureaucrats and other people who have limited time

Types of surveys and data collection methods

  • Face-to-face data collection is likely the best option in most developing countries

  • It is also the most expensive and time-consuming

  • It requires professional management of trained interviewers, sampling and other aspects of the study

Mail surveys

  • Work well only if the postal system is reliable

  • The questionnaire must be carefully designed for self-administration, and there should not be too many language issues

  • The cost is usually quite reasonable

  • It misses the homeless and other vulnerable groups who may not have a valid mailing address

Internet surveys

  • Require special planning and design

  • Very good for certain populations

  • These surveys can suffer from low response rates.

  • Developing and implementing internet surveys has become very reasonable in terms of cost

  • Very reasonably priced internet services are available - Survey Gizmo at

Telephone surveys

  • May have coverage issues in most countries.

  • In many countries, people do not have a phone in their home, and if they do have a phone, it is usually a mobile or cell phone

  • Most cell phone providers do not make telephone numbers available for use in random-digit-dial surveys.

Focus groups

  • Can generate information about the background conditions surrounding governance issues.

  • Focus groups are usually efficient in terms of time and money.

  • They are highly participatory and have the potential of generating solutions to the problems identified by the group members

  • It is very demanding and requires highly skilled coordinators.

Focus groups

  • Make individual ratings insignificant

  • Accuracy can suffer, as some individuals may not feel comfortable to speak up in public, while others are hard to keep quiet

  • Focus groups yield less systematic results

  • Focus groups are best used to identify issues and develop surveys rather than as the only source of data

Who collects the data

  • Outside contractors – surveys and desk studies

  • Local survey researchers

  • Local academics for desk studies

  • National Statistical Offices

  • Government ministries

  • NGOs/CSOs

Data collection and dissemination exercise

  • Pick aGovernance issue in your country

  • Choose the levels and types of the data you will collect – Macro, Micro, De jure and De facto

  • Identify the types and sources of data

  • Choose the data collection method/s

  • Identify who will collect the data

  • Select several options for sharing the results with different audiences

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