Many school projects involve collecting data to support a hypothesis. Depending on the type of project, you will need to employ different methods to get the information you need. Consider your topic matter and choose a collection method that will yield the most relevant and accurate data possible.
The Internet can be a valuable resource for collecting data on a general level. Due to the easy access to a variety of websites, you can gather a large amount of information in a short period of time. When using data in your project, however, take steps to ensure that the information is factual. Use facts and figures from studies published by governmental websites or accredited research institutions. You can also look for research results that have been published in reputable magazines or journals.
When you are looking for first-hand stories or anecdotes, interviews can be an effective method of data collection. Before an interview, develop a specific list of questions to ask each person; in doing so, you can turn the questions into control factors in the process. Select your interview participants carefully so that you can get information from people who have experience or expertise in your research topic. Depending on your budget and the location of interviewees, you can conduct either in-person or telephone interviews.
If you need to get a wide range of information from a variety of sources, use anonymous surveys and questionnaires. Surveys are appropriate when you are looking for numbers or yes/no answers because they are easy to complete and give you an idea of the broad range of the participant experience. Other survey possibilities include a checklist or a rating scale. Keep in mind that you cannot control the number of people who respond to an anonymous survey, so it is important to send out a large number. Use web surveys for a quick, inexpensive option.
For a science- or behavior-based project, observation can yield a great deal of data. Use your powers of observation to note changes in a project, patterns of behavior or unexpected features that develop over time. To give context to your observations, keep track of time, date and external conditions that may impact your subjects.
- Photo Credit observation image by Nath Photos from Fotolia.com
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