Skip Nav

Step 4: Conducting Primary Research

Getting Started

❶Writers are in good shape if they are adept at any one of these types of primary research tools. Questionnaires can be submitted by the vast audience at a time and the responses can be obtained easily.


The interviewer may ask spontaneous questions when he has little knowledge of the subject areas. The interviewer records the responses during the interview or at the end of the interview.

To conduct an interview the interviewer should have command of social skills and he should develop a rapport with the audience in order to get genuine responses. The questionnaire is one of the most commonly used methods of data collection in research. Questionnaires are formulated to get to the point information on any subject area. The questionnaire is an inexpensive method of data collection as compared to other methods of primary research. Questionnaires can be submitted by the vast audience at a time and the responses can be obtained easily.

The only drawback of questionnaire is the low feedback as several people do not return questionnaires on time. Several respondents do not show true responses in questionnaires. In the interview the interviewer can observe the gestures of the respondents but in questionnaires the respondents do not know whether the answers are genuinely true or not.

To formulate a questionnaire the researcher should formulate questions that do not contain double meaning. Questions should have to be written in easy language that anyone can understand. Questions should have to be simple and not very technical. The researcher should follow the ethics of writing and the language of the questions should not be humiliating. Experiments are the most reliable source of data collection in natural sciences.

Experiments can be conducted in any area of scientific study, whether it is chemistry, biology, physiology, physics, astronomy or mathematics. Experiments consist of logical series of actions that result in the answer to your query.

Experiments can be conducted in a controlled environment as well as in natural situations. In experiments the experimenter controls the external factors while looking for the effect of internal factors. Experiments can be conducted in the field as well as in laboratories. In most of the natural science studies a research question is formulated in which the researcher formulates one or several hypotheses.

Later the experimenter design experiments that can help him approve or disapprove his hypothesis. We also chose to take notes while the participant spoke, in addition to tape recording the conversation. We found both sources of data to be very useful i. For example, if the speakerphone malfunctioned in any way, the interviewer could still hand-record information. And the audio taped version was what we used to retrieve exact quotes we wanted to place in our manuscript, using only the participant's title as an identifier.

Finally, think about whether you are going to promise ahead of time to those who participate some kind of summary of the results. When are you going to mention this to them in the interview? If you do plan to share results with those who participate in your study, you will need to communicate exactly what you will be sharing and the estimated timeframe for generating this report.

Get the interviewee's address at the end of the conversation, and be sure to follow-through on your initial promises to participants. The lessons learned during the interview were also numerous. While some of this information we found covered generally in research methods books, other finer nuances of this process are discussed below. The interviewer's style should be friendly, courteous, conversational, and unbiased. As such, interviewers should read questions in a conversational tone and avoid awkward pauses between questions.

Do not show surprise or disapproval with a person's responses. Given this, it is useful to presume the role of a reporter trying to keep the interview on focus—not that of an evangelist, debater, curiosity seeker JUDD et al. Finally, ask every question with the same exact wording, and in the prescribed order, for each interview.

This will maintain data reliability and integrity. During the phone interview, it is important to get the interviewee to talk as much as possible. Probe any vague and general answers by saying things like "That's interesting Obviously, you do not want to influence any participant's response. In other words, do not suggest a possible answer and also avoid agreeing with a position any interviewee takes.

At the same time, you need to get participants to elaborate upon things that you know are interesting JUDD et al. Ensure you have a mix of open-ended and close-ended questions. It is helpful to have some questions where people respond, for example, in a specific Likert scale fashion i.

The open-ended questions will then provide you with the rich filler to elaborate upon such responses. If you collect demographic variables, be sure to ask these questions at the end of the interview. For example, we asked people their formal job title, industry, total years of work experience, time with the firm, time in current position, and years of education completed.

By asking these questions at the end of the interview, you will avoid enticing participants to guess your hypotheses, or to think about how the answers to such questions "are supposed to" affect their responses.

Be sure to give the interviewee feedback as appropriate JUDD et al. You could, for example, praise an insightful response by saying something like "Uh-huh, this is the kind of information we want" or "Thanks, we appreciate your frankness.

And when the interviewee does not want to give a close-ended response to a close-ended question, you can say something like "Well, in general, what would you say? In this way, you will maximize the potential of each interview.

In terms of the length of the interview, each may vary to some degree from one person to the next. Some people are able and willing to expound more than others. We found that if a potential participant asked how long the interview would take, and the interviewer responded with an answer above minutes, most persons either bowed out of participating or said they could not spend that much time.

We discovered this is in our pilot study, and it affected our ultimate interview length and the number of questions we planned to ask. Know the length of the interview you want to conduct, determine the length of the interview your participants are willing to give, and ask questions that will fit in that specific timeframe.

Again, this is where your thorough pre-testing will pay off. There are lessons we learned in the post phone interview phase, as well.

Being familiar with these ahead of time will further enhance the quality of your study. Each is summarized in Table 1 and discussed in turn. At the end of the data collection phase, it is important to prepare your data for analysis. Immediately after each interview, re-read your interview notes from the phone conversation to make sure they are complete and accurate. Do not procrastinate or put off this task, as enticing as it might be.

If you do, then the integrity of your study's data and ultimate findings may be jeopardized. Prior to conducting the study, you should have determined the data analysis method that will be used. There are two main types of survey questions: Open-ended questions are questions that solicit a written response from the survey respondent.

Close-ended questions come in the form of yes or no questions and scales that ask participants to assign ranks to different response choices.

This type of survey question is valuable for obtaining numeric data that can be used to compile statistical evidence. Researchers make observations when they visually examine a person, event, or place and take notes on the details they witness.

Observations allow the researcher to obtain information that subjects of a study might lack the objectivity to provide. Data analysis involves the organization of data based upon criteria that is established by the researcher. This type of research is especially useful for identifying trends to describe a certain phenomenon.

For example, researcher who wants to determine whether robberies are more likely to occur at night or during the day might look to crime report figures to conduct a data analysis. Writers are in good shape if they are adept at any one of these types of primary research tools. The majority of research designs will use one or more of these research methods.

In addition to understanding the different types of primary research, it is equally important to know when it is beneficial to conduct interviews, surveys, observations, or data analysis. Here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each primary research method. Interviews are beneficial for obtaining information, perspectives, or opinions on a research topic. Because interview questions are open ended, participants are free to fully express their answers to the interview question and provide detailed answers.

The downside of interviews is that they can be time consuming. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to interview each study participant.

Because interview questions are hard to quantify, this form of research is undesirable for research topics that require you to identify trends in data. Surveys allow researchers to obtain feedback from a large number of people in a short period of time. One questionnaire can be distributed to thousands of participants and used to find meaningful trends from the responses.

Since surveys call for the opinions of research participants, the feedback they obtain can be subjective in nature. Even questions asking for concrete information, such as the number of times the survey taker purchased a certain product in a month, relies upon the accuracy of the respondent. Without careful controls, survey responses can be very unreliable as evidence. Observations allow researchers to obtain objectivity that might not be lacking from interviews and surveys.

For example, a researcher might choose to observe a family at the dinner table and record their conversations. By directly observing the family, the researcher does not have to rely upon the correct recollection of the research participants to access accurate information. Making observations can be the most time-consuming method of conducting research.

Because the researcher must be present to observe the event, a significant amount of time must be allotted to watching the research subject and recording the results.

Data analysis enables researchers to organize and make sense of large amounts of information. Data collected and analyzed from credible sources can significantly boost the authority of any research project. This method of research is the most beneficial method of obtaining an objective evaluation of trends and patterns. Drawing meaningful conclusions from data might require an advanced background in statistics. To eliminate errors or misinterpretations of the data, the researcher must have a keen understanding of data analysis techniques.

Draft a research question to be answered through your research. Determine which research methods will answer your question.

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

The research can include focus groups, surveys, interviews, and observations. Unlike other forms of research, where you apply the work of others to your business, primary research aims to answer questions relevant solely to your company.

Privacy FAQs

Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys, and Interviews by Dana Lynn Driscoll This essay is a chapter in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing, Volume 2, a peer-reviewed open textbook series for the writing classroom.

About Our Ads

Advantages of interviews include possibilities of collecting detailed information about research questions. Moreover, in in this type of primary data collection researcher has direct control over the flow of process and she has a chance to clarify certain issues during the process if needed. Primary research is research that you generate, such as an interview you conduct. I encourage you to pursue interviews because you can learn plenty (if you talk to the right person), ask your own questions, and get unique answers.

Cookie Info

When conducting primary market research, you can gather two basic types of information: exploratory or specific. Exploratory research is open-ended, helps you define a specific problem, and usually involves detailed, unstructured interviews in which lengthy answers are . If you have ever conducted an interview, written down an observation, or distributed a questionnaire, you have conducted primary research. In some cases, primary research might involve the collection of data that is already published and made available for the public.