What steps will you take to enhance the transparency of your data collection methods?

What steps will you take to enhance the transparency of your data collection methods?

data collection


What are Data Collection Methods?

Data collection methods are techniques and procedures used to gather information for research purposes. These methods can range from simple self-reported surveys to more complex experiments and can involve either quantitative or qualitative approaches to data gathering.

Some common data collection methods include surveys, interviews, observations, focus groups, experiments, and secondary data analysis. The data collected through these methods can then be analyzed and used to support or refute research hypotheses and draw conclusions about the study’s subject matter.

Data collection methods play a crucial role in the research process as they determine the quality and accuracy of the data collected. Here are some mejor importance of data collection methods.

  • Determines the quality and accuracy of collected data.
  • Ensures that the data is relevant, valid, and reliable.
  • Helps reduce bias and increase the representativeness of the sample.
  • Essential for making informed decisions and accurate conclusions.
  • Facilitates achievement of research objectives by providing accurate data.
  • Supports the validity and reliability of research findings.

Methods, techniques and constants for the evaluation of online public access catalogs

Until the emergence of new information and communication technologies (ICT), and in particular the Internet, information systems generally contained tangible resources. With the advent of the Web, the development of collections became more complex, which progressively began to have electronic and virtual documents, which required information professionals to face the challenge of changing the perspective of technical processes, this time with new requirements capable of facing documentary complexity (especially from the point of view of structural integration).

This reality demands the reorganization and redesign of essential processes in information systems, particularly for the storage and retrieval of information, in such a way that they facilitate clear and expeditious access to information. In this sense, attention to the methods used for description becomes vitally important, both from a formal and content point of view.

Even though many organizations, work groups and individuals are using the Internet to generate and/or distribute information, and the amount of electronic resources available on the Web has increased substantially in recent years, a good part of the collections, especially Those that are not generated in HTML are “invisible” from the benefits that general searches on the Internet currently offer, so it can be argued that there is an imminent need to access this type of resources based on new management strategies. of the contents. Consequently, online catalogs require new specific tags (new metadata sets), new metalanguages, new semantics and new syntax to achieve efficient search and retrieval.


The new challenge for information professionals consists of representing not only the constant or explicit concepts of the documents, but also the changes in the understanding or use of these, emergent or circumstantial changes, which must also be identified as inputs for the construction of metadata and for the knowledge management process, which would identify new topics that would serve potential users of information systems.

The guarantee for competitiveness and excellence in the provision of online catalog services depends on a new strategic vision in the quality evaluation and management processes, with the identification of the opportunities offered by a scenario in constant transformation and supporting new demands for adaptability and incessant changes for the provision of services through continuous improvement.


The application of automation in the recovery of bibliographic records was initially represented by large databases that led to the creation of online catalogs. With the development of information and communications technologies supported by networks, access to records has transcended the doors of libraries, which is possible through remote access to online public access catalogs (OPAC). Its main objective was that end users could conduct themselves, autonomously and independently, in online information searches.5 Online catalogs were the first information retrieval systems designed to be used directly by the general public, requiring or no training.

With the widespread use of online catalogs, they have become a dynamic channel of access to constantly growing information resources through the use of networks and the possibilities of hyperlinks.

Although several difficulties for their use still persist in many of them, they are important for cataloguers, as they serve as a guide for the use of rules and standards when working with bibliographic records, and also to approach and adopt measures that from usability and User-centered design allows the use and exploitation of OPACs in accordance with the needs of users of information systems.

At present, the analysis and study of users, as well as the creation of products/services that satisfy their needs, is a complex issue, especially if these products and services are in the web environment, both even more so if they are analyzed under the influence of the philosophy of web 2.0.

The truth is that new generations of users (2.0 users) have grown up with the use of computers and with access to all the benefits they offer; Therefore, their forms of consumption, access and processing of information, as well as their needs and expectations, are different, since they require and expect personalized products and services with immediate response, collaborative and multitasking, they assume participatory learning, they prefer access non-linear to information, they prefer graphical representations to written text and expect the interfaces of different systems to be more intuitive.

These users consume a wide variety of information, but not in a static way, since they become, in turn, producers of new information, which benefits them with the significant advantages of the knowledge that is built.

Information designers and professionals must aim to make OPACs a system to improve, promote, facilitate the use and consumption of information in information systems, through the incorporation of techniques and tools that meet the requirement that what users value: ease of use. In this sense, it can be said that the perspectives presented by the studies related to OPACs in the field of their improvement are different, and above all that they are carried out partially focused on the different benefits that they offer.


Regarding the methods used for evaluation, it could be argued that there is great terminological diversity to identify the different practices used in this sense, but that they could be systematized into three large divisions: qualitative, quantitative and those that use comparisons.

Quantitative methods

These are methods that focus above all on the collection of statistical information related to the functioning of the institution, related to efficiency, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness. They are methods focused on the operation of the systems, but although very necessary, they have the drawback that they use statistics collected by staff or by automatic systems; Therefore, the data collected may have a certain deviation, from which it is inferred that the results are not completely reliable.

Qualitative methods

They are assisted by qualitative information collection techniques, such as exchanges of opinions or brainstorming, interviews and questionnaires, strategies that are much closer to human sensations. They are mostly used to discover long-term results, goals and impact of systems.

Qualitative methods tend to use a natural and holistic approach in the evaluation process. “They also tend to pay more attention to the subjective aspects of human experience and behavior.” These methods must be applied with extreme care, always keeping in mind that satisfaction with the results of the systems will be in line with the groups of users who receive them, a very complex element due to the diversity of criteria and perceptions that exists from one group to another. , which depends, in turn, on a set of subjective and polycausal factors.

Comparative methods

It is recognized as the method that uses the comparison between various systems, processes, products or services to determine best practices, such as benchmarking. It is a process of evaluating products, services and processes between organizations, through which one analyzes how another performs a specific function to match or improve it. The application of these methods allows organizations to achieve higher quality in their products, services and processes through cooperation, collaboration and the exchange of information.

Their objective is to correct errors and identify opportunities, learning to provide solutions and make decisions following the patterns of leaders. This type of study is carried out in direct contact with competitors or non-competitors and at the end the results are shared so that each organization creates its own organizational improvement system.


It should be noted in this space that each of the aforementioned methods pursue their particular objectives and are determined by the information collection techniques used in the evaluation process; that the combination of several of them could be beneficial to fully meet the objective of any evaluation. These information collection techniques must be compatible with the method used in the evaluation process, so that it can provide the necessary information. There are a large number of information collection techniques, but the most used in the evaluation process are those shown below:

1. The tests.

2. The evaluations of the participants.

3. Expert evaluations.

4. Surveys.

5. The interviews.

6. Observation of behavior and activities.

7. The evaluation of personnel performance.

8. Daily analysis of participants.

9. Analysis of historical and current archives.

10. Transactional analysis.

11. Content analysis.

12. Bibliometric techniques, especially citation analysis.

13. Use files.

14. Anecdotal evidence.

Evaluation activities are still useful, even if they do not immediately lead to decision-making. The reflection that they generate on the weaknesses they reveal is useful to define new lines of work that focus on resolving the elements that generate difficulties and dissatisfaction, both for employees and users/customers.

The methods used in the evaluation of OPAC in general contain a broad component of statistical application and it could be argued that they are not entirely methods produced by Library Science or Information Science, in their own way, but are marked by the influence of other fields of knowledge such as Mathematical and Computer Sciences, Cognitive Psychology, HCI, usability, among other disciplines.

It is worth clarifying that the use of none of these methods is exclusive of another, although they are usually applied depending on what is to be measured in each case, an issue that has contributed to measuring quality from specific perspectives and not from a point of comprehensive view.

Most authors do not establish differences between the methods and techniques for collecting information, and they can be consulted, from very general classifications to other very detailed ones used for particular cases. When general studies are mentioned, the one that proposes developing four basic methodologies for catalog evaluation could be analyzed:

– Questionnaires: both for users and system workers.

– Group interviews: with the selection of a specific topic, also applied to end users and system personnel.

– System monitoring: both through direct observation of users and the recording of system operations.

– Controlled or laboratory experiments.

On the other hand, there are other more specific and detailed ones that aim to evaluate a particular aspect within online catalogs. In the case of the interface study, the following methods are found:

Methods prior to commercial distribution of the interface

– Expert reviews: based on heuristic evaluations, review by previous recommendations, consistency inspection and user simulations.

– Usability testing: through discounted testing, exploration testing, field testing, validation testing and others.

– Lab test.

– Questionnaires.

– Interviews and discussions with users.

Methods during the active life of the product

– Monitoring of user performance.

– Monitoring and/or telephone or online help.

– Communication of problems.

– News groups.

– User information: through newsletters or FAQs.

Another that addresses both the perspective of the system and that of the user and where there is a difference between data collection methods and techniques is the study that proposes the following:

– Analysis of prototypes.

– Controlled experiments.

– Protocol transaction analysis (TLA).

– Comparative analysis.

– Protocol analysis.

– Expert evaluations of the system.

The first three methods (prototype analysis, controlled experiments and protocol transaction analysis), proposed in this study, are focused on the operation of the system, while the last three (comparative analysis, protocol analysis, expert evaluations of the system) are most used to verify human behavior and its interaction with the system; hence this proposal is considered generalizing and integrating.

Thus, in this same study, the following data collection techniques are proposed: questionnaires, interviews, log transaction records, protocol records and verbal protocol records. The feasibility and relevance of combining several research techniques to obtain better results is also stated.

It should be mentioned that the use of any type of data collection methods and techniques for the evaluation of online catalogs is considered correct, taking into consideration, of course, the objectives sought with the use of each of them, in each of the cases to be evaluated.

The optimal thing would be the combination of several methods and techniques that provide sufficient data, in such a way that they can offer the information closest to reality for subsequent evaluation and decision making, using both quantitative and qualitative data, referring to both users. as well as the system, in a way that allows a comprehensive appreciation of this product and/or service. Some information collection techniques used most frequently in OPAC evaluation studies are described below, of which there are known advantages and disadvantages in their application.





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