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There are many diverse ways to collect data in counseling research. (Erford, 2015, p. 229). Two methods of collecting data that I will describe are known as interviews and questionnaires, surveys, and rating scales.
Interviews consist of multiple participants involving the collection of data through phone interviews, face to face meetings, and face to face interviews. One strength of interviews is how they can be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured. When an interview is structured, the interviewer asks the same question in order provided the ability for the data to be coded, quantified, and analyzed easier. When an interview is semi-structured, participants can expand and explore upon different responses. When an interview is unstructured, there are basic questions which in return provide the ability for the participants to explore deeper in the responses chosen. (Erford, 2015, pp. 229-230). Other strengths of interviews in collecting data include cost effective, rapid data collection, and importance defined by the participants. A few weaknesses of interviews are that this form of collecting data produces limited quantitative data, the accuracy is limited and difficult to specify, and has the possibility to be difficult when analyzing and summarizing discoveries. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 2017).
Questionnaires, surveys, and rating scales consist of the researcher asking open and/or closed ended questions. The questionnaires, surveys, and rating scales involve the collection of data through instruments with paper and pencil and electronic administration via the internet. (Erford, 2015, p. 230). The strengths of surveys include being reliable, valid, generates quantitative data, and can be highly accurate. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 2017). Two weaknesses of this method of data collection is nonresponse bias (incomplete and/or non-return of instrument) and literacy skills for an understanding and ability to complete instruments. (Erford, 2015, p. 230).
Interview Example: Benjamin works at a finance company and is wanting to hire an individual to work as a bookkeeper. He has four applicants for the job position, but he is having a challenging time choosing the best candidate. Benjamin decides to form a structured interview that consists of five questions that he will ask each of the four applicants in the same order. Benjamin will be able to gather the ten answers from each of the four applicants and conclude which applicant stands out among the rest. By using a structured interview, Benjamin has reduced bias and can interpret the outcome easier.
With all research methods there are flaws, there may never be the foolproof design. However, there are plenty of methods that exist to help minimize errors. The best practice for collecting your data is to first take into count your population and the data needed from this population. After these considerations are made some survey types may be ruled out. The two types I will cover are ranking and likert surveys.
I am fond of the ranking style survey for a few reasons. First, it makes the participants slow down and compare the product/service against one another. For example, Instead of asking the customer do you like this brand more than most, instead the survey wants to know who in order the participant values more. However, with this particular survey there are weaknesses to consider. One weakness of this survey style is it can become time consuming for the researcher, especially if there is missing data (Eford, 2015).
The likert scale survey is similar in style to the ranking survey in the sense that if forces the participant to analyze their thoughts/feelings about a particular item, person or service more in depth when compared to other surveys, but likert also has it’s weakness. When the survey doesn’t provide a neutral response, participants are forced to decide more negative or positive towards the topic. Some researchers argue that weakness of the likert scale to be the optimal number of response (Eford, 2015).
There are many methods of collecting data, and these examples provide insight to surveying. Participants are usually accommodating to this particular method. Researchers most often can analyze the surveys in a quick manor. As counselors we will be interviewing our clients, but applying these methods when needed.
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