Most Popular Methods To Gather Primary Data For PhD Thesis

Primary Data

A primary data source is an original data source. Researchers obtain the data directly for a specific study, goal or project. Researchers can gather primary data in a variety of ways. The most popular methods to gather primary data are self-administered surveys, interviews, focus group discussions, and experiments. Compared to secondary data collection, primary data collection is more expensive and requires time.

Nonetheless, original data collection may be the only viable option for some types of study. In addition, primary data is more reliable as compared to secondary data. Primary data is authentic and objective. Many researchers are not aware of collecting primary data most efficiently. This article by experts of a top PhD dissertation help service will discuss the most popular methods to gather primary data for PhD Thesis.

Decide On Your Principal Research Methodology

The first step entails deciding on your research methodology for primary research. It can be either quantitative or qualitative, and you can decide whether to use a mixed-method approach. So, before collecting data, it is essential to know the primary research methodology and decide accordingly. Here is a brief overview of the quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches:

Qualitative Research Methodology: Qualitative research explores the research problem or a phenomenon. This methodology analyses other people’s perspectives and, based on reflection that you can try to comprehend the issue at hand.

Quantitative Research Methodology: Quantitative research seeks to verify or validate a hypothesis. It relies on statistical analysis and concerns itself with numerical data. Researchers try to understand a research problem by gathering fixed and measurable data.

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Mixed-Method Approach: Researchers combine quantitative and qualitative research methods in a mixed-method research methodology. It enables the researchers to get a deeper understanding of the research problem.

Most Popular Methods To Gather Primary Data

Following are the most popular methods to gather primary data for both quantitative and qualitative research for PhD Thesis:

1. Close-ended Survey Questionnaires

The quantitative research methodology utilizes close-ended survey questionnaires to gather primary data. It is the method of asking structured questions with a predetermined set of answers from which the participants choose their answers. Close-ended survey questionnaires encompass categorical and interval/ratio questions. Categorical survey questions consist of the following:

  • Yes/No questions
  • Multiple choice questions
  • Checkbox questions
  • Interval/ratio questions consist of the following:
  • Questions that utilize a rating scale such as the Likert scale
  • Matrix questions encompass a set of predetermined values on a given scale

2. Open-Ended Survey Questionnaires

Researchers utilise open-ended survey questions to gather primary data in qualitative research. It helps identify the relevant research problem’s motivations, qualities or sentiments. Open-ended survey questions differ greatly from close-ended survey questions. Close-ended questions have predefined possibilities of answers from which respondents must choose one. In contrast, open-ended surveys provide respondents with much more latitude and flexibility in recording their responses. 

3. Interviews

In qualitative research, interviews are one of the most popular data collection procedures. The interviewer collects data directly from the interviewee in this situation. It is an efficient data collection strategy to gather highly personalised data. Following are the three main types of interviews:

i. Structured interview

A structured interview is a quantitative research approach. The researcher asks questions from a given list of closed-ended questions. The researcher does not deviate from the questions in this type of interview.

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ii. Semi-structured Interview

A semi-structured interview is a qualitative data gathering approach. The researcher asks informants a sequence of predefined open-ended questions.

iii. Unstructured Interviews

Unstructured interviews do not employ pre-written questions. Instead, the interviewer asks open-ended questions about the relevant research problem. These types of interviews are exploratory and utilized in qualitative research methodology. The researcher tries to make the conversation flow naturally. The interviewer tailors their questions to the candidate’s unique background.

4. Experimental Method

An experimental method is a quantitative method to collect primary data. It entails formulating a hypothesis that predicts a link between two or more variables. The researcher then experiments to confirm or disprove the hypothesis. The experimental method is most common in natural sciences.

5. Focus Group Discussions

Focus group discussion is great for informally interviewing a small group of people (6-12 persons) to discuss the relevant research problem. The researcher introduces the topic and uses a prepared interview guide to direct the discussion and elicit thoughts, opinions, and reactions. The researcher can also improvise with probes or supplementary questions as needed. The number of people in focus group discussions varies according to the study’s goals. Some focus groups are homogeneous, while others are heterogeneous. Focus group discussions provide deeper insights than interviews because of their interactive nature.

6. Observations

An observation is observing a group of people in their natural environment. Researchers utilise a participatory approach in this method. Besides, they monitor the environment where the subjects of their observation are present. Also, they take notes, video/audio recordings, photos, and other forms of documentation to gather data.

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Direct observation can contribute to biasness in research due to its participatory aspect. Participation might impact the researcher’s attitudes and opinions. It makes it difficult for the researcher to stay impartial. Furthermore, the fact that the researcher is also a participant might influence the naturalness of participants’ actions and behaviours when they are aware that somebody is observing them. 


Gathering primary data is unquestionably a daunting task. The researcher is responsible for the data’s accuracy and trustworthiness. Primary research necessitates a great deal of planning and resources. While conducting such a study, you must also consider some ethical issues. Primary data gives a researcher more control over how they acquire information. One of the fundamental advantages of collecting primary data is that it becomes the sole property of the researcher who collects it, and it is up to them to distribute it or not. So, it is important to have a methodology to gather primary data most efficiently. The methods listed above help gather primary data for my PhD Thesis. You can utilise these strategies for both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

By Jonathan Naylor

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