If you can’t answer your questions with existing data, you may need to collect your own data. This is generally referred to as primary data.
Types of data. There are two types of primary data: quantitative and qualitative.
You can collect data in a variety of ways. We often turn to Listening to the Community: A Guide to Primary Data Collection when communities are thinking about how to collect data. It’s a deep resource that offers guidance on when and how to use key informant interviews, focus groups, community surveys, community forums, and observation.
Who are you asking? As you decide which methods you will use to collect data, think about who you’re going to ask:
- Will you ask individuals or groups?
- How are the individuals or groups you will collect information from representative of those living in your community?
- Who will do the asking and analyzing? Be sure to meaningfully engage those who have lived experience in the process of understanding issues and taking action together.
We like to use the Photovoice technique to engage hard-to-reach groups. For example, it’s a great way to bring the youth voice into the conversation.
Keep the end in mind. As you decide which methods you will use to collect data, keep your vision for the community in mind. How will the data you collect help you move your vision forward?
In-depth resource. Assessing Community Needs & Resources in the Community Tool Box provides an in-depth description of a variety of methods for collecting data. Each section describes the method and why, when, and how you should use it.