Aging, Community and Health Research Group (ACHRU)

McMaster University

Patient & Public Engagement

Collecting data

Brochure Cover

How can Patient and Public Research Partners contribute to collecting data?

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What is data collection?

Data collection is a way to get information from relevant sources, such as people or databases, to find answers to research questions.

There are three steps in doing this:

1. Selecting appropriate data collection methods and tools

Data, or information, can be collected in a number of ways. However not all methods and tools can be used to answer all research questions.

Qualitative research studies answer how, what, and why questions. Here, researchers use interviews and group discussions to explore participants’ views and experiences.

Quantitative research studies answer how much, how often, to what extent, and when something happens. Researchers may use methods such as surveys and polls containing structured questions.

Some research studies need both qualitative and quantitative data to answer the research questions. This is called a Mixed Methods research study

2. Recruiting participants for the study

To answer the research question, it is important that the data is collected from the right population sample.

A population is the group of people you are interested in and who are relevant to your research questions. For example, if you were doing a study on diabetes in seniors, researchers would want seniors who have diabetes to participate.

But, it would be near impossible to involve all seniors with diabetes in a study. Instead, researchers choose a sample or portion of the population to involve in their research. Sometimes this sample is selected randomly. At other times, participants in the sample are chosen specifically for their experiences or other characteristics (e.g., sex, age, ethnicity).

3. Collecting data

Once a study method has been selected and participants have been recruited and agree to take part, research teams can begin collecting data from participants.

How can you help?

Some ways Patient and Public Research Partners can assist with collecting data include:
• Testing the questions
• Planning recruitment
• Recruiting participants on behalf of the team
• Handing out and collecting surveys
• Performing in-depth oneon-one interviews
• Leading discussion groups.

Will you be paid and acknowledged?

Absolutely! As a Patient and Public Research Partner, you will be paid for your time and travel costs. Your input will be acknowledged, as we value your insights.

What is your commitment?

You can decide with the research team what activities interest you most. As a research partner, you can decide how much time you can commit. You can decide when you want to start and stop taking part in the research.