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Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring data, information or any variables of interest in a standardized and established manner that enables the collector to answer or test hypothesis and evaluate outcomes of the particular collection. This is an integral, usually initial, component of any research done in any field of study such as the physical and social sciences, business, humanities and others.
Data collection is concerned with the accurate acquisition of data; although methods may differ depending on the field, the emphasis on ensuring accuracy remains the same. The primary goal of any data collection endeavor is to capture quality data or evidence that easily translates to rich data analysis that may lead to credible and conclusive answers to questions that have been posed.
Accurate data collection is essential to ensure the integrity of the research, regardless of the field of study or data preference (quantitative or qualitative). The selection of appropriate data collection tools and instruments, which may be existing, modified or totally new, and with clearly defined instructions for their proper use, reduces the chances of errors occurring during collection.
Distorted findings are often the result of improper data collection such as misleading questions on questionnaires, unknowingly omitting the collection of some supporting data, and other unintentional errors. This would lead to a skewed conclusion that may be useless.