Collect Data

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Now that you have determined the scope of your assessment and decided whether or not to collaborate with a partner, you are ready to begin collecting your data. In any data collection effort, it is essential that you first set limits on how much data you will collect and analyze. Consider the amount of time and resources you have available prior to selecting any specific method or combination of methods. Prioritize your data collection needs according to what is essential to complete your community assessment and then document your data collection efforts along the way. Using a tool such as the Creating a Data Collection Plan Worksheet, which can be downloaded in this chapter, you will be able to list your key questions that you have identified in Step 1 and then identify probable sources of information.

Start with secondary sources to collect your data.

Your community assessment will be based on two types of data sources: secondary and primary. Start your data collection with secondary sources: data that has already been collected by others. Other members of your community may have the information that you are looking for. Start with local sources of information and then broaden your search as necessary. Focus on quality of data, as opposed to quantity, so you can dedicate more time to other aspects of the community assessment.

Click to open interactivity Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources

Use this guide to secondary sources to help locate the information you need.

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Follow secondary data with primary data to complete your collection.

Primary data is data collected by the person or group conducting the assessment. Primary source data collection methods should be used to address questions that cannot be answered by secondary sources or to gain a better understanding of a particular issue. There are several methods for collecting primary sources of data for your community assessment, including questionnaires, observation, focus groups, interviews, and case studies.

Click to open interactivity Data Collection Plan.

Data Collection Plan.

Use the Creating a Data Collection Plan Worksheet as a guide to plan your data collection efforts.

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