The following table provides an overview of the basic methods to collect data.

(Written by Carter McNamara, PhD; available at http://www.managementhelp.org/research/overview.htm)

Method
Overall Purpose
Advantages
Challenges
questionnaires, surveys, checklists when need to quickly and/or easily get lots of information from people in a non threatening way -can complete anonymously
-inexpensive to administer
-easy to compare and analyze
-administer to many people
-can get lots of data
-many sample questionnaires already exist
-might not get careful feedback
-wording can bias client's responses
-are impersonal
-in surveys, may need sampling expert
-doesn't get full story
interviews when want to fully understand someone's impressions or experiences, or learn more about their answers to questionnaires -get full range and depth of information
-develops relationship with client
-can be flexible with client
-can take much time
-can be hard to analyze and compare
-can be costly
-interviewer can bias client's responses
documentation review when want impression of how program operates without interrupting the program; is from review of applications, finances, memos, minutes, etc. -get comprehensive and historical information
-doesn't interrupt program or client's routine in program
-information already exists
-few biases about information
-often takes much time
-info may be incomplete
-need to be quite clear about what looking for
-not flexible means to get data; data restricted to what already exists
observation to gather accurate information about how a program actually operates, particularly about processes -view operations of a program as they are actually occurring
-can adapt to events as they occur
-can be difficult to interpret seen behaviors
-can be complex to categorize observations
-can influence behaviors of program participants
-can be expensive
focus groups explore a topic in depth through group discussion, e.g., about reactions to an experience or suggestion, understanding common complaints, etc.; useful in evaluation and marketing -quickly and reliably get common impressions
-can be efficient way to get much range and depth of information in short time
-can convey key information about programs
-can be hard to analyze responses
-need good facilitator for safety and closure
-difficult to schedule 6-8 people together
case studies to fully understand or depict client's experiences in a program, and conduct comprehensive examination through cross comparison of cases -fully depicts client's experience in program input, process and results
-powerful means to portray program to outsiders
-usually quite time consuming to collect, organize and describe 
-represents depth of information, rather than breadth

The following are related links for research methodology:


Please note: these websites are not sponsored by BYU.  They have been helpful for students in the past needing quick information.  Some are from Universities, others are not.  Be cautious, but open, to the information they provide.

Factorial Designs - Web Center for Social Research Methods
http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/tutorial/Coffin/home2.htm

Methods in Behavioral Research - California State University, Fullerton
http://methods.fullerton.edu/framesindex.html

Research and Psychology - provided by Jacksonville State University
http://www.psychology.org/links/Resources/Doing_Research/

Research Methods and Resources - Library Research Service
http://www.lrs.org/resources.php

Research Methods and Statistics - Athabasca University in Canada
http://psych.athabascau.ca/html/aupr/tools.shtml

Resources for Social Research Methods - The International Consortium for the Advancement of Academic Publication
http://gsociology.icaap.org/methods/

Review of Longitudinal Research Methods - Web Center for Social Research Methods
http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/tutorial/Cho2/cho1.html

Social Research Update - University of Surrey in England
http://sru.soc.surrey.ac.uk/