Data collection tips

You’re well on your way to collecting the data you need. You’ll want to keep a check on progress, be patient and be diligent to ensure you get the data you are looking for, whilst leaving room for tweaks to your approach.

Monitor and review your progress

Check in on the progress of the data you are collecting from time to time and use the check-list below once you have finished collecting your data, too.

Do you have the data you need?

  • Think in terms of the quality of data or the sample. Are you collecting enough responses to be valid?

  • Do you have to do more observation or interviews?

  • Are the questionnaire responses giving you the answers you need? Might you need a more in-depth approach?

  • Do you need to send any reminders or survey any other stakeholders?

When will you stop collecting data?

  • Will you get enough in time?

  • Might you have to push back the closing data of your questionnaire?

  • What does a delay mean for your overall timeline?

  • Have you planned for the time you’ll need to transcribe any interviews?  


It can be tempting to make changes to how you collect your data, and even which data you collect. If you do make changes, take the time to work through how these changes will affect your data collection, and what conclusions you can draw from them. Be reflexive about what you are doing.

Stay flexible

Sometimes plans need to be adapted.  Maybe things aren’t going to plan, or something has changed since your plans were made, or you learned something you wish you’d known earlier in the process.  Keeping an open mind towards adapting your approach will help you manage these challenges.


You might want to say yes to every new data collection opportunity, but always keep in mind the resource and capacity you need to collect and analyse the data. Remember that quality is often more important than quantity.

Make a backup of your data

Keep your master data safe!

  • Always keep the original master data in a safe backed-up place.

  • Export data out of proprietary tools into a neutral format supported by multiple tools (like an Excel spreadsheet).

  • Do not alter the contents of the master files of collected data. 

  • When you clean, reformat or otherwise modify the data, always do so from a copy of the master data.

  • Draft a data management plan on how to store and manage your data, especially if you are collecting a lot of data. This is something more often done at an academic level, but it’s worth looking into.

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