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Source: This article was published bigdata-madesimple.com By Menaka George - Contributed by Member: Martin Grossner

Data collection for marketing research is a detailed process where a planned search for all relevant data is made by a researcher. The success of marketing research is contingent on the integrity and relevance of the data. And to a high degree, the quality of the data depends on the methods of data collection used. The selection and use of methods for conducting marketing research require a great deal of experience and expertise in order to correctly gage suitability.

These methods fall into two types of research categories, which are Qualitative Research and Quantitative Research. Qualitative Research is generally used to develop an initial understanding of the problem. It is non-statistical in nature and the answers are derived from the data itself. It is used in exploratory and descriptive research designs. Qualitative data can be procured through a variety of forms like interview transcripts; documents, diaries, and notes made while observing. Quantitative Research, on the other hand, quantifies the data and generalizes the results from the sample to the population.

There are two types of data:

  1. Primary Data – Data that is collected first hand by the researcher. This data is specifically collected for the purpose of the study and addresses the current problem. This is original data that is collected by the researcher first hand.
  2. Secondary Data – Data from other sources that has been already collected and is readily available. This data is less expensive and more quickly attainable from various published sources. Secondary data is extremely useful when primary data cannot be obtained at all.

The challenge lies in the case of method selection for collecting primary data. The method has to be relevant and appropriate. This will be the most important decision prior to beginning market research.

The market research process consists of 6 distinct steps:

  • Step 1 - Determine the research problem and objectives
  • Step 2 - Cultivate the overall research plan
  • Step 3 – Collect the data
  • Step 4 – Analyze the data
  • Step 5 – Present or publish the findings
  • Step 6 – Use the findings to make an informed decision

To further explore Step 3, here a few effective methods of data collection:

1. Telephone Interviews

The biggest advantage of telephone interviews is that is saves cost and time. Today, accessing people via telephone is so much easier because almost everyone has one. Another advantage is fewer interviewers are required in order to conduct telephone interviews than face-to-face interviews.

2. Online Surveys

Given the current myriad of technological developments, the use of online surveys has rapidly increased. It may well be the least expensive way to reach the greatest amount of people – all over the world. Once an online survey has been designed, it can be stored easily, revised and reused as needed from time to time. The key is in the design and layout of the survey so that respondents don’t overlook a survey in their crowded inboxes. The response time is quick so online surveys have become the preferred method of data collection for many consumer satisfaction surveys and product and service feedback. It is easy to track respondents, non-respondents and results through the data collection process. Electronic reminders can be sent easily at a very low cost. Respondents have the option to begin the survey, stop, save the responses at a later more convenient time. Research shows that respondents tend to answer questions more truthfully than when engaged through other methods.

3. Face to Face Interviews

This method is one of the most flexible ways to gather data and gain trust and cooperation from the respondents. Besides that, interviewing respondents in person means their non-verbal language can be observed as well. It is especially useful to detect discomfort when respondents are discussing sensitive issues. Respondents have more time to consider their answers and the interviewer can gain a deeper understanding of the validity of a response. It is also easier to maintain their interest and focus for a longer period. Focus Group Interviewsentail more respondents at one time.

Face to face interviews can also take place via Intercept Interviews as well. These interviews can take place on the spot at shopping malls, street corners or even at the threshold of people’s homes. It is understandable why these types of interviews must be brief, to the point and free of from distasteful questions as there is a strong risk of the potential respondent leaving. These face to face interactions can be time-consuming so enlist a trusted company like Dattel Asia to provide the data needed with unprecedented levels of transparency. Dattel Asia is ASEAN’s leading data collection company that utilizes tablets, digital tools, and artificial machine learning systems for data collection. A reliable face-to-face data collection service provider that has over 250 skilled Field Data Associates and more than 310,000 unique and verified respondents in their data repository.

Categorized in Market Research

Whatever research you intend doing online you do have to start somewhere. The collection and collation of data require you to be organised. You must develop your own research techniques when online and stick to them.

Are you looking for info on…

  • data collection tools in research methodology
  • what are the disadvantages of online research
  • good online research tools
  • best internet research tips

Internet Research Techniques

Before starting any research on the internet you need to know some of the Pro’s and Con’s …

What are the advantages of doing internet research?

  • Ability to obtain a large sample, which increases statistical power
  • Ability to obtain a more diverse sample than in traditional university-based research
  • Prevents experimenter demand effects (with no interaction with the experimenter, no “experimenter expectancy” effect)

What are the disadvantages of doing internet research?

  • Some subjects may try to participant in the same study more than once
    1. To overcome this problem, you can ask for the email addresses of each participant and then look for duplicates.
    2. Since nowadays it's easy for people to create multiple email addresses, you can also ask for name and/or address of each subject. Sometimes researchers will have a “lottery” as incentive to participate (e.g., $100 lottery prize for each 400 participants), so asking for name/address is necessary to award the lottery check.
    3. You can also collect the IP address of each participant and look for duplicates. One issue here is that sometimes DSL providers give the same IP address to multiple people.
  • Some subjects may drop out of the study before finishing
    1. In traditional laboratory-based research its unusual for a subject to walk out of a study, but online a subject can get distracted or simply lose interest and end the study. Sometimes researchers will have a “lottery” as incentive to have the subject participate in the study, but with any type of monetary incentive IRB’s typically require a statement in the consent form saying something to the effect of “you may discontinue participation at any time without any consequences or losing your entry in the lottery.”
    2. Since a certain number of online subjects won't finish the study, you can over-collect the number of subjects you think you need to offset the number of subjects who don't finish the study, usually around 10-20%.
  • Some subjects may stop the study and then continue minutes/hours later
    1. The problem here is that some studies involve manipulations which may lose power if there is a time lag between the manipulation and measures in the study. One advantage of online studies is that you can record how long the subject is taking part in the study, so you can identify the average length of time of your study, and also identify those subjects who take an extrordinary long amount of time to finish the study.

 

 

Categorized in Online Research

Abstract

This paper explores the most common methods of data collection used in qualitative research: interviews and focus groups. The paper examines each method in detail, focusing on how they work in practice when their use is appropriate and what they can offer dentistry. Examples of empirical studies that have used interviews or focus groups are also provided.

Key points

  • Interviews and focus groups are the most common methods of data collection used in qualitative healthcare research.
  • Interviews can be used to explore the views, experiences, beliefs, and motivations of individual participants
  • Focus group use group dynamics to generate qualitative data

Qualitative research in dentistry

  1. Qualitative research in dentistry

  2. Methods of data collection in qualitative research: interviews and focus groups

  3. Conducting qualitative interviews with school children in dental research

  4. Analysing and presenting qualitative data

Introduction

Having explored the nature and purpose of qualitative research in the previous paper, this paper explores methods of data collection used in qualitative research. There are a variety of methods of data collection in qualitative research, including observations, textual or visual analysis (eg from books or videos) and interviews (individual or group).1However, the most common methods used, particularly in healthcare research, are interviews and focus groups.2,3

The purpose of this paper is to explore these two methods in more detail, in particular how they work in practice, the purpose of each, when their use is appropriate and what they can offer dental research.

Qualitative research interviews

There are three fundamental types of research interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured. Structured interviews are, essentially, verbally administered questionnaires, in which a list of predetermined questions are asked, with little or no variation and with no scope for follow-up questions to responses that warrant further elaboration. Consequently, they are relatively quick and easy to administer and may be of particular use if clarification of certain questions are required or if there are likely to be literacy or numeracy problems with the respondents. However, by their very nature, they only allow for limited participant responses and are, therefore, of little use if 'depth' is required.

Conversely, unstructured interviews do not reflect any preconceived theories or ideas and are performed with little or no organisation.4 Such an interview may simply start with an opening question such as 'Can you tell me about your experience of visiting the dentist?' and will then progress based, primarily, upon the initial response. Unstructured interviews are usually very time-consuming (often lasting several hours) and can be difficult to manage, and to participate in, as the lack of predetermined interview questions provides little guidance on what to talk about (which many participants find confusing and unhelpful). Their use is, therefore, generally only considered where significant 'depth' is required, or where virtually nothing is known about the subject area (or a different perspective of a known subject area is required).

Semi-structured interviews consist of several key questions that help to define the areas to be explored, but also allows the interviewer or interviewee to diverge in order to pursue an idea or response in more detail.2 This interview format is used most frequently in healthcare, as it provides participants with some guidance on what to talk about, which many find helpful. The flexibility of this approach, particularly compared to structured interviews, also allows for the discovery or elaboration of information that is important to participants but may not have previously been thought of as pertinent by the research team.

For example, in a recent dental public health study,5 school children in Cardiff, UK were interviewed about their food choices and preferences. A key finding that emerged from semi-structured interviews, which was not previously thought to be as highly influential as the data subsequently confirmed, was the significance of peer-pressure in influencing children's food choices and preferences. This finding was also established primarily through follow-up questioning (eg probing interesting responses with follow-up questions, such as 'Can you tell me a bit more about that?') and, therefore, may not have emerged in the same way, if at all, if asked as a predetermined question.

The purpose of research interviews

The purpose of the research interview is to explore the views, experiences, beliefs and/or motivations of individuals on specific matters (eg factors that influence their attendance at the dentist). Qualitative methods, such as interviews, are believed to provide a 'deeper' understanding of social phenomena that would be obtained from purely quantitative methods, such as questionnaires.1 Interviews are, therefore, most appropriate where little is already known about the study phenomenon or where detailed insights are required from individual participants. They are also particularly appropriate for exploring sensitive topics, where participants may not want to talk about such issues in a group environment.

Examples of dental studies that have collected data using interviews are 'Examining the psychosocial process involved in regular dental attendance'6 and 'Exploring factors governing dentists' treatment philosophies'.7 Gibson et al.6 provided an improved understanding of factors that influenced people's regular attendance with their dentist. The study by Kay and Blinkhorn7 provided a detailed insight into factors that influenced GDPs' decision making in relation to treatment choices. The study found that dentists' clinical decisions about treatments were not necessarily related to pathology or treatment options, as was perhaps initially thought, but also involved discussions with patients, patients' values and dentists' feelings of self-esteem and conscience.

There are many similarities between clinical encounters and research interviews, in that both employ similar interpersonal skills, such as questioning, conversing and listening. However, there are also some fundamental differences between the two, such as the purpose of the encounter, reasons for participating, roles of the people involved and how the interview is conducted and recorded.8

The primary purpose of clinical encounters is for the dentist to ask the patient questions in order to acquire sufficient information to inform decision making and treatment options. However, the constraints of most consultations are such that any open-ended questioning needs to be brought to a conclusion within a fairly short time.2 In contrast, the fundamental purpose of the research interview is to listen attentively to what respondents have to say, in order to acquire more knowledge about the study topic.9 Unlike the clinical encounter, it is not to intentionally offer any form of help or advice, which many researchers have neither the training nor the time for. Research interviewing, therefore, requires a different approach and a different range of skills.

The interview

When designing an interview schedule it is imperative to ask questions that are likely to yield as much information about the study phenomenon as possible and also be able to address the aims and objectives of the research. In a qualitative interview, good questions should be open-ended (ie, require more than a yes/no answer), neutral, sensitive and understandable.2 It is usually best to start with questions that participants can answer easily and then proceed to more difficult or sensitive topics.2 This can help put respondents at ease, build up confidence and rapport and often generates rich data that subsequently develops the interview further.

As in any research, it is often wise to first pilot the interview schedule on several respondents prior to data collection proper.8 This allows the research team to establish if the schedule is clear, understandable and capable of answering the research questions, and if, therefore, any changes to the interview schedule are required.

The length of interviews varies depending on the topic, researcher, and participant. However, on average, healthcare interviews last 20-60 minutes. Interviews can be performed on a one-off or, if change over time is of interest, repeated basis,4, for example, exploring the psychosocial impact of oral trauma on participants and their subsequent experiences of cosmetic dental surgery.

Developing the interview

Before an interview takes place, respondents should be informed about the study details and given assurance about ethical principles, such as anonymity and confidentiality.2 This gives respondents some idea of what to expect from the interview, increases the likelihood of honesty and is also a fundamental aspect of the informed consent process.

Wherever possible, interviews should be conducted in areas free from distractions and at times and locations that are most suitable for participants. For many, this may be at their own home in the evenings. Whilst researchers may have less control over the home environment, familiarity may help the respondent to relax and result in a more productive interview.9 Establishing rapport with participants prior to the interview is also important as this can also have a positive effect on the subsequent development of the interview.

When conducting the actual interview it is prudent for the interviewer to familiarise themselves with the interview schedule, so that the process appears more natural and less rehearsed. However, to ensure that the interview is as productive as possible, researchers must possess a repertoire of skills and techniques to ensure that comprehensive and representative data are collected during the interview.10 One of the most important skills is the ability to listen attentively to what is being said, so that participants are able to recount their experiences as fully as possible, without unnecessary interruptions.

Other important skills include adopting open and emotionally neutral body language, nodding, smiling, looking interested and making encouraging noises (eg, 'Mmmm') during the interview.2 The strategic use of silence, if used appropriately, can also be highly effective at getting respondents to contemplate their responses, talk more, elaborate or clarify particular issues. Other techniques that can be used to develop the interview further include reflecting on remarks made by participants (eg, 'Pain?') and probing remarks ('When you said you were afraid of going to the dentist what did you mean?').9 Where appropriate, it is also wise to seek clarification from respondents if it is unclear what they mean. The use of 'leading' or 'loaded' questions that may unduly influence responses should always be avoided (eg, 'So you think dental surgery waiting rooms are frightening?' rather than 'How do you find the waiting room at the dentists?').

At the end of the interview, it is important to thank participants for their time and ask them if there is anything they would like to add. This gives respondents an opportunity to deal with issues that they have thought about, or think are important but have not been dealt with by the interviewer.9 This can often lead to the discovery of new, unanticipated information. Respondents should also be debriefed about the study after the interview has finished.

All interviews should be tape recorded and transcribed verbatim afterward, as this protects against bias and provides a permanent record of what was and was not said.8 It often also helps to make 'field notes' during and immediately after each interview about observations, thoughts, and ideas about the interview, as this can help in data analysis process.4,8

Focus groups

Focus groups share many common features with less structured interviews, but there is more to them than merely collecting similar data from many participants at once. A focus group is a group discussion on a particular topic organized for research purposes. This discussion is guided, monitored and recorded by a researcher (sometimes called a moderator or facilitator).11,12

Focus groups were first used as a research method in market research, originating in the 1940s in the work of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University. Eventually, the success of focus groups as a marketing tool in the private sector resulted in its use in public sector marketing, such as the assessment of the impact of health education campaigns.13 However, focus group techniques, as used in public and private sectors, have diverged over time. Therefore, in this paper, we seek to describe focus groups as they are used in academic research.

When focus groups are used

Focus groups are used for generating information on collective views, and the meanings that lie behind those views. They are also useful in generating a rich understanding of participants' experiences and beliefs.12 Suggested criteria for using focus groups include:13

  • As a standalone method, for research relating to group norms, meanings, and processes

  • In a multi-method design, to explore a topic or collect group language or narratives to be used in later stages

  • To clarify, extend, qualify or challenge data collected through other methods

  • To feedback results to research participants.

Morgan12 suggests that focus groups should be avoided according to the following criteria:

  • If listening to participants' views generates expectations for the outcome of the research that can not be fulfilled

  • If participants are uneasy with each other, and will therefore not discuss their feelings and opinions openly

  • If the topic of interest to the researcher is not a topic the participants can or wish to discuss

  • If statistical data is required. Focus groups give depth and insight, but cannot produce useful numerical results.

Conducting focus groups: group composition and size

The composition of a focus group needs great care to get the best quality of discussion. There is no 'best' solution to group composition, and group mix will always impact on the data, according to things such as the mix of ages, sexes and social professional statuses of the participants. What is important is that the researcher gives due consideration to the impact of group mix (eg, how the group may interact with each other) before the focus group proceeds.14

Interaction is key to a successful focus group. Sometimes this means a pre-existing group interacts best for research purposes, and sometimes stranger groups. Pre-existing groups may be easier to recruit, have shared experiences and enjoy a comfort and familiarity which facilitates discussion or the ability to challenge each other comfortably. In health settings, pre-existing groups can overcome issues relating to disclosure of potentially stigmatizing status which people may find uncomfortable in stranger groups (conversely there may be situations where disclosure is more comfortable in stranger groups). In other research projects, it may be decided that stranger groups will be able to speak more freely without fear of repercussion, and challenges to other participants may be more challenging and probing, leading to richer data.13

Group size is an important consideration in focus group research. Stewart and Shamdasani14 suggest that it is better to slightly over-recruit for a focus group and potentially manage a slightly larger group, than under-recruit and risk having to cancel the session or having an unsatisfactory discussion. They advise that each group will probably have two non-attenders. The optimum size for a focus group is six to eight participants (excluding researchers), but focus groups can work successfully with as few as three and as many as 14 participants. Small groups risk limited discussion occurring, while large groups can be chaotic, hard to manage for the moderator and frustrating for participants who feel they get insufficient opportunities to speak.13

Preparing an interview schedule

Like research interviews, the interview schedule for focus groups is often no more structured than a loose schedule of topics to be discussed. However, in preparing an interview schedule for focus groups, Stewart and Shamdasani14 suggest two general principles:

  1. Questions should move from general to more specific questions

  2. Question order should be relative to the importance of issues in the research agenda.

There can, however, be some conflict between these two principles, and trade-offs are often needed, although often discussions will take on a life of their own, which will influence or determine the order in which issues are covered. Usually, less than a dozen predetermined questions are needed and, as with research interviews, the researcher will also probe and expand on issues according to the discussion.

Moderating

Moderating a focus group looks easy when done well, but requires a complex set of skills, which are related to the following principles:15

  • Participants have valuable views and the ability to respond actively, positively and respectfully. Such an approach is not simply a courtesy but will encourage fruitful discussions

  • Moderating without participating: a moderator must guide a discussion rather than join in with it. Expressing one's own views tends to give participants cues as to what to say (introducing bias), rather than the confidence to be open and honest about their own views

  • Be prepared for views that may be unpalatably critical of a topic which may be important to you

  • It is important to recognize that researchers' individual characteristics mean that no one person will always be suitable to moderate any kind of group. Sometimes the characteristics that suit a moderator for one group will inhibit discussion in another

  • Be yourself. If the moderator is comfortable and natural, participants will feel relaxed.

The moderator should facilitate group discussion, keeping it focussed without leading it. They should also be able to prevent the discussion being dominated by one member (for example, by emphasizing at the outset the importance of hearing a range of views), ensure that all participants have ample opportunity to contribute, allow differences of opinions to be discussed fairly and, if required, encourage reticent participants.13

Other relevant factors

The venue for a focus group is important and should, ideally, be accessible, comfortable, private, quiet and free from distractions.13However, while a central location, such as the participants' workplace or school, may encourage attendance, the venue may affect participants' behavior. For example, in a school setting, pupils may behave like pupils, and in clinical settings, participants may be affected by any anxieties that affect them when they attend in a patient role.

Focus groups are usually recorded, often observed (by a researcher other than the moderator, whose role is to observe the interaction of the group to enhance analysis) and sometimes videotaped. At the start of a focus group, a moderator should acknowledge the presence of the audio recording equipment, assure participants of confidentiality and give people the opportunity to withdraw if they are uncomfortable with being taped.14

A good quality multi-directional external microphone is recommended for the recording of focus groups, as internal microphones are rarely good enough to cope with the variation in the volume of different speakers.13 If observers are present, they should be introduced to participants as someone who is just there to observe, and sit away from the discussion.14 Videotaping will require more than one camera to capture the whole group, as well as additional operational personnel in the room. This is, therefore, very obtrusive, which can affect the spontaneity of the group and in a focus group does not usually yield enough additional information that could not be captured by an observer to make videotaping worthwhile.15

The systematic analysis of focus group transcripts is crucial. However, the transcription of focus groups is more complex and time-consuming than in one-to-one interviews, and each hour of audio can take up to eight hours to transcribe and generate approximately 100 pages of text. Recordings should be transcribed verbatim and also speakers should be identified in a way that makes it possible to follow the contributions of each individual. Sometimes observational notes also need to be described in the transcripts in order for them to make sense.

The analysis of qualitative data is explored in the final paper of this series. However, it is important to note that the analysis of focus group data is different from other qualitative data because of their interactive nature, and this needs to be taken into consideration during analysis. The importance of the context of other speakers is essential to the understanding of individual contributions.13 For example, in a group situation, participants will often challenge each other and justify their remarks because of the group setting, in a way that perhaps they would not in a one-to-one interview. The analysis of focus group data must, therefore, take account of the group dynamics that have generated remarks.

Focus groups in dental research

Focus groups are used increasingly in dental research, on a diverse range of topics,16 illuminating a number of areas relating to patients, dental services, and the dental profession. Addressing a special needs population difficult to access and sample through quantitative measures, Robinson et al.17 used focus groups to investigate the oral health-related attitudes of drug users, exploring the priorities, understandings, and barriers to care they encounter. Newton et al.18used focus groups to explore barriers to services among minority ethnic groups, highlighting for the first time differences between minority ethnic groups. Demonstrating the use of the method with professional groups as subjects in dental research, Gussy et al.19explored the barriers to and possible strategies for developing a shared approach in the prevention of caries among pre-schoolers. This mixed method study was very important as the qualitative element was able to explain why the clinical trial failed, and this understanding may help researchers improve on the quantitative aspect of future studies, as well as making a valuable academic contribution in its own right.

Conclusion

Interviews and focus groups remain the most common methods of data collection in qualitative research and are now being used with increasing frequency in dental research, particularly to access areas not amenable to quantitative methods and/or where depth, insight, and understanding of particular phenomena are required. The examples of dental studies that have employed these methods also help to demonstrate the range of research contexts to which interview and focus group research can make a useful contribution. The continued employment of these methods can further strengthen many areas of dentally related work.

Source: This article was published nature.com

Categorized in Online Research

Much of the workings of the world today are controlled and powered by information, giving credence to that famous quote, “information is power”. Professionals, researchers, organizations, businesses, industries and even governments cannot function without information serving as “fuel” for decision-making, strategizing, gaining and storing knowledge.

But information is not something that is handed to anyone on a silver platter. It starts with a small raw fact or figure – or a set of raw facts and figures – that are not organized and, all too often, without meaning or context. These are called “data”. By itself, and in its raw form, data may seem useless.

Data will cease to be useless once it undergoes processing, where it will be organized, structured and given context through interpretation and analysis. Processing gives it meaning, effectively turning it into information that will eventually be of great use to those who need it. Collectively, all information will make up bodies of knowledge that will, in turn, benefit various users of this knowledge.

Without data, there won’t be any information. Therefore, no matter how data may seem random and useless, it is actually considered to be the most important and basic unit of any information structure or body of knowledge.

To that end, various approaches, tools and methodologies aimed at gathering or collecting data have been formulated.

THE MEANING OF DATA COLLECTION

Whether it is business, marketing, humanities, physical sciences, social sciences, or other fields of study or discipline, data plays a very important role, serving as their respective starting points. That is why, in all of these processes that involve the usage of information and knowledge, one of the very first steps is data collection.

Data collection is described as the “process of gathering and measuring information on variables of interest, in an established systematic fashion that enables one to answer queries, stated research questions, test hypotheses, and evaluate outcomes.”

Depending on the discipline or field, the nature of the information being sought, and the objective or goal of users, the methods of data collection will vary. The approach to applying the methods may also vary, customized to suit the purpose and prevailing circumstances, without compromising the integrity, accuracy and reliability of the data.

There are two main types of data that users find themselves working with – and having to collect.

  1. Quantitative Data. These are data that deal with quantities, values or numbers, making them measurable. Thus, they are usually expressed in numerical form, such as length, size, amount, price, and even duration. The use of statistics to generate and subsequently analyze this type of data add credence or credibility to it, so that quantitative data is overall seen as more reliable and objective.
  2. Qualitative Data. These data, on the other hand, deals with quality, so that they are descriptive rather than numerical in nature. Unlike quantitative data, they are generally not measurable, and are only gained mostly through observation. Narratives often make use of adjectives and other descriptive words to refer to data on appearance, color, texture, and other qualities.

In most cases, these two data types are used as preferences in choosing the method or tool to be used in data collection. As a matter of fact, data collection methods are classified into two, and they are based on these types of data. Thus, we can safely say that there are two major classifications or categories of data collection methods: the quantitative data collection methods and the qualitative data collection methods.

IMPORTANCE OF DATA COLLECTION

From the definition of “data collection” alone, it is already apparent why gathering data is important: to come up with answers, which come in the form of useful information, converted from data.

But for many, that still does not mean much.

Depending on the perspective of the user and the purpose of the information, there are many concrete benefits that can be gained from data gathering. In general terms, here are some of the reasons why data collection is very important. The first question that we will address is: “why should you collect data?”

Data collection aids in the search for answers and resolutions.

Learning and building knowledge is a natural inclination for human beings. Even at a very young age, we are in search for answers to a lot of things. Take a look at toddlers and small children, and they are the ones with so many questions, their curious spirit driving them to repeatedly ask whatever piques their interest.

A toddler curious about a white flower in the backyard will start collecting data. He will approach the flower in question and look at it closely, taking in the color, the soft feel of the petals against his skin, and even the mild scent that emanates from it. He will then run to his mother and pull her along until they got to where the flower is. In baby speak, he will ask what the flower’s name is, and the mother will reply, “It’s a flower, and it is called rose.”

It’s white. It’s soft. It smells good. And now the little boy even has a name for it. It’s called a rose. When his mother wasn’t looking, he reached for the rose by its stem and tried to pluck it. Suddenly, he felt a prickle in his fingers, followed by a sharp pain that made him yelp. When he looked down at his palm, he saw two puncture marks, and they are bleeding.

The little boy starts to cry, thinking how roses, no matter how pretty and good-smelling, are dangerous and can hurt you. This information will now be embedded in his mind, sure to become one of the most enduring pieces of information or tidbit of knowledge that he will know about the flower called “rose”.

The same goes in case of a marketing research, for example. A company wants to learn a few things about the market in order to come up with a marketing plan, or tweak an already existing marketing program. There’s no way that they will be able to do these things without collecting the relevant data.

Data collection facilitates and improves decision-making processes, and the quality of the decisions made.

Leaders cannot make decisive strategies without facts to support them. Planners cannot draw up plans and designs without a basis. Entrepreneurs could not possibly come up with a business idea – much less a viable business plan – out of nothing at all. Similarly, businesses won’t be able to formulate marketing plans, and implement strategies to increase profitability and growth, if they have no data to start from.

Without data, there won’t be anything to convert into useful information that will provide the basis for decisions. All that decision-makers are left with is their intuition and gut feeling, but even gut feeling and instinct have some basis on facts.

Decision-making processes become smoother, and decisions are definitely better, if there is data driving them. According to a survey by Helical IT, the success rate of decisions based on data gathered is higher by 79% than those made using pure intuition alone.

In business, one of the most important decisions that must be made is on resource allocation and usage. If they collect the relevant data, they will be able to make informed decisions on how to use business resources efficiently.

Data collection improves quality of expected results or output.

Just as having data will improve decision-making and the quality of the decisions, it will also improve the quality of the results or output expected from any endeavor or activity. For example, a manufacturer will be able to produce high quality products after designing them using reliable data gathered. Consumers will also find the claims of the company about the product to be more reliable because they know it has been developed after conducting significant amount of research.

Through collecting data, monitoring and tracking progress will also be facilitated. This gives a lot of room for flexibility, so response can be made accordingly and promptly. Adjustments can be made and improvements effected.

Now we move to the next question, and that is on the manner of collecting data. Why is there a need to be particular about how data is collected? Why does it have to be systematic, and not just done on the fly, using whatever makes the data gatherer comfortable? Why do you have to pick certain methodologies of data collection when you can simply be random with it?

  • Collecting data is expensive and resource-intensive. It will cost you money, time, and other resources. Thus, you have to make sure you make the most of it. You cannot afford to be random and haphazard about how you gather data when there are large amounts of investment at stake.
  • Data collection methods will help ensure the accuracy and integrity of data collected. It’s common sense, really. Using the right data collection method – and using it properly – will allow only high quality data to be gathered. In this context, high quality data refers to data that is free from errors and bias arising from subjectivity, thereby increasing their reliability. High quality and reliable data will then be processed, resulting to high quality information.

METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION

We’ll now take a look at the different methods or tools used to collect data, and some of their pros (+) and cons (-). You may notice some methods falling under both categories, which means that they can be used in gathering both types of data.

I. Qualitative Data Collection Methods

Exploratory in nature, these methods are mainly concerned at gaining insights and understanding on underlying reasons and motivations, so they tend to dig deeper. Since they cannot be quantified, measurability becomes an issue. This lack of measurability leads to the preference for methods or tools that are largely unstructured or, in some cases, maybe structured but only to a very small, limited extent.

Generally, qualitative methods are time-consuming and expensive to conduct, and so researchers try to lower the costs incurred by decreasing the sample size or number of respondents.

Face-to-Face Personal Interviews

This is considered to be the most common data collection instrument for qualitative research, primarily because of its personal approach. The interviewer will collect data directly from the subject (the interviewee), on a one-on-one and face-to-face interaction. This is ideal for when data to be obtained must be highly personalized.

The interview may be informal and unstructured – conversational, even – as if taking place between two casual to close friends. The questions asked are mostly unplanned and spontaneous, with the interviewer letting the flow of the interview dictate the next questions to be asked.

However, if the interviewer still wants the data to be standardized to a certain extent for easier analysis, he could conduct a semi-structured interview where he asks the same series of open-ended questions to all the respondents. But if they let the subject choose her answer from a set of options, what just took place is a closed, structured and fixed-response interview.

  • (+) This allows the interviewer to probe further, by asking follow-up questions and getting more information in the process.
  • (+) The data will be highly personalized (particularly when using the informal approach).
  • (-) This method is subject to certain limitations, such as language barriers, cultural differences, and geographical distances.
  • (-) The person conducting the interview must have very good interviewing skills in order to elicit responses.

Qualitative Surveys

  • Paper surveys or questionnaires. Questionnaires often utilize a structure comprised of short questions and, in the case of qualitative questionnaires, they are usually open-ended, with the respondents asked to provide detailed answers, in their own words. It’s almost like answering essay questions.
    • (+) Since questionnaires are designed to collect standardized data, they are ideal for use in large populations or sample sizes of respondents.
    • (+) The high amount of detail provided will aid analysis of data.
    • (-) On the other hand, the large number of respondents (and data), combined with the high level and amount of detail provided in the answers, will make data analysis quite tedious and time-consuming.
  • Web-based questionnaires. This is basically a web-based or internet-based survey, involving a questionnaire uploaded to a site, where the respondents will log into and accomplish electronically. Instead of a paper and a pen, they will be using a computer screen and the mouse.
    • (+) Data collection is definitely quicker. This is often due to the questions being shorter, requiring less detail than in, say, a personal interview or a paper questionnaire.
    • (+) It is also uncomplicated, since the respondents can be invited to answer the questionnaire by simply sending them an email containing the URL of the site where the online questionnaire is available for answering.
    • (-) There is a limitation on the respondents, since the only ones to be able to answer are those who own a computer, have internet connection, and know their way around answering online surverys.
    • (-) The lesser amount of detail provided means the researcher may end up with mostly surface data, and no depth or meaning, especially when the data is processed.

Focus Groups

Focus groups method is basically an interview method, but done in a group discussion setting. When the object of the data is behaviors and attitudes, particularly in social situations, and resources for one-on-one interviews are limited, using the focus group approach is highly recommended. Ideally, the focus group should have at least 3 people and a moderator to around 10 to 13 people maximum, plus a moderator.

Depending on the data being sought, the members of the group should have something in common. For example, a researcher conducting a study on the recovery of married mothers from alcoholism will choose women who are (1) married, (2) have kids, and (3) recovering alcoholics. Other parameters such as the age, employment status, and income bracketdo not have to be similar across the members of the focus group.

The topic that data will be collected about will be presented to the group, and the moderator will open the floor for a debate.

  • (+) There may be a small group of respondents, but the setup or framework of data being delivered and shared makes it possible to come up with a wide variety of answers.
  • (+) The data collector may also get highly detailed and descriptive data by using a focus group.
  • (-) Much of the success of the discussion within the focus group lies in the hands of the moderator. He must be highly capable and experienced in controlling these types of interactions.

Documental Revision

This method involves the use of previously existing and reliable documents and other sources of information as a source of data to be used in a new research or investigation. This is likened to how the data collector will go to a library and go over the books and other references for information relevant to what he is currently researching on.

  • (+) The researcher will gain better understanding of the field or subject being looked into, thanks to the reliable and high quality documents used as data sources.
  • (+) Taking a look into other documents or researches as a source will provide a glimpse of the subject being looked into from different perspectives or points of view, allowing comparisons and contrasts to be made.
  • (-) Unfortunately, this relies heavily on the quality of the document that will be used, and the ability of the data collector to choose the right and reliable documents. If he chooses wrong, then the quality of the data he will collect later on will be compromised.

Observation

In this method, the researcher takes a participatory stance, immersing himself in the setting where his respondents are, and generally taking a look at everything, while taking down notes.

Aside from note-taking, other documentation methods may be used, such as video and audio recording, photography, and the use of tangible items such as artifacts, mementoes, and other tools.

  • (+) The participatory nature may lead to the researcher getting more reliable information.
  • (+) Data is more reliable and representative of what is actually happening, since they took place and were observed under normal circumstances.
  • (-) The participation may end up influencing the opinions and attitudes of the researcher, so he will end up having difficulty being objective and impartial as soon as the data he is looking for comes in.
  • (-) Validity may arise due to the risk that the researcher’s participation may have an impact on the naturalness of the setting. The observed may become reactive to the idea of being watched and observed. If he planned to observe recovering alcoholic mothers in their natural environment (e.g. at their homes with their kids), their presence may cause the subjects to react differently, knowing that they are being observed. This may lead to the results becoming impaired.

Longitudinal studies

This is a research or data collection method that is performed repeatedly, on the same data sources, over an extended period of time. It is an observational research method that could even cover a span of years and, in some cases, even decades. The goal is to find correlations through an empirical or observational study of subjects with a common trait or characteristic.

An example of this is the Terman Study of the Gifted conducted by Lewis Terman at Stanford University. The study aimed to gather data on the characteristics of gifted children – and how they grow and develop – over their lifetime. Terman started in 1921, and it extended over the lifespan of the subjects, more than 1,500 boys and girls aged 3 to 19 years old, and with IQs higher than 135. To this day, this study is the world’s “oldest and longest-running” longitudinal study.

  • (+) This is ideal when seeking data meant to establish a variable’s pattern over a period of time, particularly over an extended period of time.
  • (+) As a method to find correlations, it is effective in finding connections and relationships of cause and effect.
  • (-) The long period may become a setback, considering how the probability of the subjects at the beginning of the research will still be complete 10, 20, or 30 years down the road is very low.
  • (-) Over the extended period, attitudes and opinions of the subjects are likely to change, which can lead to the dilution of data, reducing their reliability in the process.

Case Studies

In this qualitative method, data is gathered by taking a close look and an in-depth analysis of a “case study” or “case studies” – the unit or units of research that may be an individual, a group of individuals, or an entire organization. This methodology’s versatility is demonstrated in how it can be used to analyze both simple and complex subjects.

However, the strength of a case study as a data collection method is attributed to how it utilizes other data collection methods, and captures more variables than when a single methodology is used. In analyzing the case study, the researcher may employ other methods such as interviewing, floating questionnaires, or conducting group discussions in order to gather data.

  • (+) It is flexible and versatile, analyzing both simple and complex units and occurrence, even over a long period of time.
  • (+) Case studies provide in-depth and detailed information, thanks to how it captures as many variables as it can.
  • (-) Reliability of the data may be put at risk when the case study or studies chosen are not representative of the sample or population.

II. Quantitative Data Collection Methods

Data can be readily quantified and generated into numerical form, which will then be converted and processed into useful information mathematically. The result is often in the form of statistics that is meaningful and, therefore, useful. Unlike qualitative methods, these quantitative techniques usually make use of larger sample sizes because its measurable nature makes that possible and easier.

Quantitative Surveys

Unlike the open-ended questions asked in qualitative questionnaires, quantitative paper surveys pose closed questions, with the answer options provided. The respondents will only have to choose their answer among the choices provided on the questionnaire.

  • (+) Similarly, these are ideal for use when surveying large numbers of respondents.
  • (+) The standardized nature of questionnaires enable researchers to make generalizations out of the results.
  • (-) This can be very limiting to the respondents, since it is possible that his actual answer to the question may not be in the list of options provided on the questionnaire.
  • (-) While data analysis is still possible, it will be restricted by the lack of details.

Interviews

Personal one-on-one interviews may also be used for gathering quantitative data. In collecting quantitative data, the interview is more structured than when gathering qualitative data, comprised of a prepared set of standard questions.

These interviews can take the following forms:

  • Face-to-face interviews: Much like when conducting interviews to gather qualitative data, this can also yield quantitative data when standard questions are asked.
    • (+) The face-to-face setup allows the researcher to make clarifications on any answer given by the interviewee.
    • (-) This can be quite a challenge when dealing with a large sample size or group of interviewees. If the plan is to interview everyone, it is bound to take a lot of time, not to mention a significant amount of money.
  • Telephone and/or online, web-based interviews. Conducting interviews over the telephone is no longer a new concept. Rapidly rising to take the place of telephone interviews is the video interview via internet connection and web-based applications, such as Skype.
    • (+) The net for data collection may be cast wider, since there is no need to travel through distances to get the data. All it takes is to pick up the phone and dial a number, or connect to the internet and log on to Skype for a video call or video conference.
    • (-) Quality of the data may be questionable, especially in terms of impartiality. The net may be cast wide, but it will only be targeting a specific group of subjects: those with telephones and internet connections and are knowledgeable about using such technologies.
  • Computer-assisted interviews. This is called CAPI, or Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing where, in a face-to-face interview, the data obtained from the interviewee will be entered directly into a database through the use of a computer.
    • (+) The direct input of data saves a lot of time and other resources in converting them into information later on, because the processing will take place immediately after the data has been obtained from the source and entered into the database.
    • (-) The use of computers, databases and related devices and technologies does not come cheap. It also requires a certain degree of being tech-savvy on the part of the data gatherer.

Quantitative Observation

This is straightforward enough. Data may be collected through systematic observation by, say, counting the number of users present and currently accessing services in a specific area, or the number of services being used within a designated vicinity.

When quantitative data is being sought, the approach is naturalistic observation, which mostly involves using the senses and keen observation skills to get data about the “what”, and not really about the “why” and “how”.

  • (+) It is a quite simple way of collecting data, and not as expensive as the other methods.
  • (-) The problem is that senses are not infallible. Unwittingly, the observer may have an unconscious grasp on his senses, and how they perceive situations and people around. Bias on the part of the observer is very possible.

Experiments

Have you ever wondered where clinical trials fall? They are considered to be a form of experiment, and are quantitative in nature. These methods involve manipulation of an independent variable, while maintaining varying degrees of control over other variables, most likely the dependent ones. Usually, this is employed to obtain data that will be used later on for analysis of relationships and correlations.

Quantitative researches often make use of experiments to gather data, and the types of experiments are:

  • Laboratory experiments. This is your typical scientific experiment setup, taking place within a confined, closed and controlled environment (the laboratory), with the data collector being able to have strict control over all the variables. This level of control also implies that he can fully and deliberately manipulate the independent variable.
  • Field experiments. This takes place in a natural environment, “on field” where, although the data collector may not be in full control of the variables, he is still able to do so up to a certain extent. Manipulation is still possible, although not as deliberate as in a laboratory setting.
  • Natural experiments. This time, the data collector has no control over the independent variable whatsoever, which means it cannot be manipulated. Therefore, what can only be done is to gather data by letting the independent variable occur naturally, and observe its effects.

You can probably name several other data collection methods, but the ones discussed are the most commonly used approaches. At the end of the day, the choice of a collection method is only 50% of the whole process. The correct usage of these methods will also have a bearing on the quality and integrity of the data being sought.

Source: This article was published cleverism.com By Anastasia

Categorized in Research Methods

In this introduction to the basic steps of market research, the reader can find help with framing the research question, figuring out which approach to data collection to use, how best to analyze the data, and how to structure the market research findings and share them with clients.

The market research process consists of six discrete stages or steps. They are as follows:

The third step of market research - - Collect the Data or Information - entails several important decisions. One of the first things to consider at this stage is how the research participants are going to be contacted. There was a time when survey questionnaires were sent to prospective respondent via the postal system. As you might imagine, the response rate was quite low for mailed surveys, and the initiative was costly.

Telephone surveys were also once very common, but people today let their answering machines take calls or they have caller ID, which enables them to ignore calls they don't want to receive. Surprisingly, the Pew Foundation conducts an amazingly large number of surveys, many of which are part of longitudinal or long-term research studies.

Large-scale telephone studies are commonly conducted by the Pew researchers and the caliber of their research is top-notch.

Some companies have issued pre-paid phone cards to consumers who are asked to take a quick survey before they use the free time on the calling card. If they participate in the brief survey, the number of free minutes on their calling card is increased.

Some of the companies that have used this method of telephone surveying include Coca-Cola, NBC, and Amaco.

Methods of Interviewing

In-depth interviews are one of the most flexible ways to gather data from research participants. Another advantage of interviewing research participants in person is that their non-verbal language can be observed, as well as other attributes about them that might contribute to a consumer profile. Interviews can take two basic forms: Arranged interviews and intercept interviews.

Arranged interviews are time-consuming, require logistical considerations of planning and scheduling, and tend to be quite expensive to conduct. Exacting sampling procedures can be used in arranged interviews that can contribute to the usefulness of the interview data set. In addition, the face-to-face aspect of in-depth interviewing can result in exposure to interviewer bias, so training of interviewers necessarily becomes a component of an in-depth interviewing project.

Intercept interviews take place in shopping malls, on street corners, and even at the threshold of people's homes. With intercept interviews, the sampling is non-probabilistic. For obvious reasons, intercept interviews must be brief, to the point, and not ask questions that are off-putting.

Otherwise, the interviewer risks seeing the interviewee walk away. One version of an intercept interview occurs when people respond to a survey that is related to a purchase that they just made. Instructions for participating in the survey are printed on their store receipt and, generally, the reward for participating is a free item or a chance to be entered in a sweepstakes.

Online data collection is rapidly replacing other methods of accessing consumer information. Brief surveys and polls are everywhere on the Web. Forums and chat rooms may be sponsored by companies that wish to learn more from consumers who volunteer their participation. Cookies and clickstream data send information about consumer choices right to the computers of market researchers. Focus groups can be held online and in anonymous blackboard settings.

Market research has become embedded in advertising on digital platforms.

There are still many people who do not regularly have access to the Internet. Providing internet access for people who do not have connections at home or are intimidated by computing or networking can be fruitful. Often, the novelty of encountering an online market research survey or poll that looks like and acts like a game is incentive enough to convert reticent Internet users.

Characteristics of Data Collection

Data collection strategies are closely tied to the type of research that is being conducted as the traditions are quite strong and have resilient philosophical foundations. In the rapidly changing field of market research, these traditions are being eroded as technology makes new methods available. The shift to more electronic means of surveying consumers is beneficial in a number of ways. Once the infrastructure is in place, digital data collection is rapid, relatively error-free, and often fun for consumers. Where data collection is still centralized, market researchers can eliminate the headache of coding data by inputting responses into computers or touch screens. The coding is instantaneous and the data analysis is rapid.

Regardless of how data is collected, the human element is always important. It may be that the expert knowledge of market researchers shifts to different places in the market research stream. For example, the expert knowledge of a market researcher is critically important in the sophisticated realm of Bayesian Networks simulation and structured equation modeling -- two techniques that are conducted through computer modeling. Intelligently designed market research requires planning regardless of the platform. The old adage still holds true: Garbage in, garbage out.

Now you are ready to take a look at the market research process Step 4. Analyze the Data.

Sources

Kotler, P. (2003). Marketing Management (11th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., Prentice Hall.

Lehmann, D. R. Gupta, S., and Seckel, J. (1997). Market Research. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley

Categorized in Market Research

Any research is only as good as the data that drives it, so choosing the right technique of data collection can make all the difference. In this article, we will look at four different data collection techniques – Observation, Questionnaire, Interview and Focus Group Session – and evaluate their suitability under different circumstances.

Observation

data collection techniques

Seeing is believing, they say. Making direct observations, when the situation allows for it, is a very quick and effective way of collecting data with minimal intrusion. Establishing the right mechanism for making the observation is all you need.

Advantages:

  • Non-responsive sample subjects are a non-issue when you’re simply making direct observation.
  • This mode doesn’t require a very extensive and well-tailored training regime for the survey workforce.
  • It is not as time-consuming as the other modes that we will be discussing below.
  • Infrastructure requirement and preparation time are minimal.

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy reliance on experts who must know what to observe and how to interpret the observations once the data collection is done.
  • There is the possibility of missing out on the complete picture due to the lack of direct interaction with sample subjects.

Use Case:

Making direct observations can be a good way of collecting information about mechanical, orderly tasks, like checking the number of manual interventions required in a day to keep an assembly line functioning smoothly.

Questionnaires

data collection techniques

Questionnaires, as we consider them here, are stand-alone instruments of datacollection that will be administered to the sample subjects either through mail, phone or online. They have long been one of the most popular data collection techniques. 

Advantages:

  • Questionnaires give the researchers an opportunity to carefully structure and formulate the datacollection plan with precision.
  • Respondents can take these questionnaires at a convenient time and think about the answers at their own pace.
  • The reach is theoretically limitless. The questionnaire can reach every corner of the globe if the medium allows for it.

Disadvantages:

  • Questionnaires without human intervention (as we have taken them here) can be quite passive and miss out on some of the finer nuances, leaving the responses open to interpretation. Interviews and Focus Group Sessions, as we shall see later, are instrumental in overcoming this shortfall of questionnaires.
  • Response rates can be quite low. Questionnaires can be designed well by choosing the right question types to optimize response rates, but very little can be done to encourage the respondents without directly conversing with them.

Use Case:

The survey can be carried out through directly-administered questionnaires when the sample subjects are relatively well-versed with the ideas being discussed and comfortable at making the right responses without assistance. A survey about newspaper reading habits, for example, would be perfect for this mode.

Interviews

data collection techniquesConducting interviews can help you overcome most of the shortfalls of the previous two data collection techniques that we have discussed here by allowing you to build a deeper understanding of the thinking behind the respondents’ answers. 

Advantages:

  • Interviews help the researchers uncover rich, deep insight and learn information that they may have missed otherwise.
  • The presence of an interviewer can give the respondents additional comfort while answering the questionnaire and ensure correct interpretation of the questions.
  • The physical presence of a persistent, well-trained interviewer can significantly improve the response rate.

Disadvantages:

  • Reaching out to all respondents to conduct interviews is a massive, time-consuming exercise that leads to a major increase in the cost of conducting a survey.
  • To ensure the effectiveness of the whole exercise, the interviewers must be well-trained in the necessary soft skills and the relevant subject matter.

Use Case:

Interviews are the most suitable technique for surveys that touch upon complex issues like healthcare and family welfare. The presence of an interviewer to help respondents interpret and understand the questions can be critical to the success of the survey.

Focus Group Sessions

data collection techniquesFocus Group Sessions take the interactive benefits of an interview to the next level by bringing a carefully chosen group together for a moderated discussion on the subject of the survey. 

Advantages:

  • The presence of several relevant people together at the same time can encourage them to engage in a healthy discussion and help researchers uncover information that they may not have envisaged.
  • It helps the researchers corroborate the facts instantly; any inaccurate response will most likely be countered by other members of the focus group.
  • It gives the researchers a chance to view both sides of the coin and build a balanced perspective on the matter.

Disadvantages:

  • Finding groups of people who are relevant to the survey and persuading them to come together for the session at the same time can be a difficult task.
  • The presence of excessively loud members in the focus group can subdue the opinions of those who are less vocal.
  • The members of a focus group can often fall prey to group-think if one of them turns out to be remarkably persuasive and influential. This will bury the diversity of opinion that may have otherwise emerged. The moderator of a Focus Group Session must be on guard to prevent this from happening.

Use Case:

Focus Group Sessions with the lecturers of a university can be a good way of collecting information on ways in which our education system can be made more research-driven.

Conclusions

Keeping these factors in mind will go a long way toward helping you choose between the four data collection techniques. The recent evolution of technology has given researchers powerful tools and dramatically transformed the ways that researchers interface with their subjects.

Source: This article was published blog.socialcops.com

Categorized in Science & Tech

Russian digital forensics firm Elcomsoft recently discovered that Apple’s mobile devices with enabled iCloud feature automatically transmit their users’ call logs to the company servers without any notification.

According to Elocomsoft the relayed information contains a list of calls made and received on the mobile device and also phone numbers, dates, times and duration of the calls. Furthermore, it is not only call logs that are sent to Apple’s servers, but calls made through WhatsApp, Viber, Skype and Facetime; with the data being stored by Apple for as long as 4 months.

Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Sputnik that users are essentially left unaware of this feature because there’s no notification that call logs can actually be synched with iCloud. He also remarked that it’s hard to say exactly how legal this particular feature is in terms of privacy issues.

"To be honest, I haven’t read Apple’s privacy agreement completely – it is a very large document, about twenty pages or so. ofcourse it does mention that some of your information can be stored to iCloud. But there’s other document that shows and describes in detail what information stored in the iCloud can be shared by Apple with the law enforcement, by the legal request of course; and there’s no single mention of the call log synching there. Apple only says that they can provide law enforcement with iCloud backups, the information stored in the iCloud backups and some other data stored in the iCloud, but nothing about the calls," he said.

Katalov pointed out that such information could be of great interest to law enforcement agencies and that there are basically two ways for them to access that data.

"Law enforcement people can contact people directly and get all the information stored there; it is encrypted of course, but the thing is, everything stored in Apple’s iCloud (well, almost everything) is encrypted in the way that the encryption keys are stored along with the data, so there’s no problem for Apple to decrypt everything and provide the plain-text information. And the other way of course is to use the software like ours to get access to the information stored in iCloud, but in that case of course you will need iCloud credentials such as the Apple ID and password or the authentication token," Katalov explained.

He added that there are also two ways for iPhone users to protect their information, but each of these methods has its own drawbacks.

"The simplest, but probably not the most effective one is to disable iCloud completely; if you can't do that then at least enable th two-factor authentication for your account to make it harder for hackers to get at your information. But still, you have to know that law enforcement can access your information stored there regardless of whether the two-factor authentication is enabled or not," he surmised.

Author:  TECH

Source:  https://sputniknews.com

Categorized in Social

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