What Is It?
Data and information can be collected either from documents or from people. Document sources can be internal (reports, plans, policies, promotional brochures, etc.) or external (legislation, partner documentation, media reports, donor reports, etc.). It is important to review and select only what is important, otherwise it is easy to become overwhelmed.
Data from people can be obtained either from individuals or from groups, and either directly through conversation and interviews or indirectly through observation. Whom to meet is always a critical question. Ideally you will want to meet as many people as possible, but time and resource constraints, political sensitivities, people’s availability and geographical location will all limit this desire. Using the stakeholder analysis will help to work strategically and to match the data collection method to the audience.
Data Collection Methods
- This involves a printed or electronic list of questions.
- This is distributed to a predetermined selection of individuals.
- Individuals complete and return the questionnaire.
- This involves personal interaction.
- Interviewer asks questions, normally following a guide or protocol.
- Interviewer records answers.
Group technique (interview, facilitated workshop, focus group)
- This involves group discussion of a predetermined issue or topic.
- Group members share certain common characteristics.
- A facilitator or moderator leads the group.
- An assistant moderator usually records the responses.
- This can be conducted in person or through teleconferencing if it is available.
- This involves identifying printed or electronic documents (reports, journals, etc.) containing information on the issues to be explored.
- Researchers review documents and identify relevant information.
- They keep track of the information retrieved from documents.
- Observations of people’s actions, attitudes and reactions can allow useful information to be gained.
- To ensure accuracy, observations must be systematically noted and triangulated with other data collection methods.
- A useful, simple (and under-used) tool that can quickly gather ideas from a group of people by letting them freely express their creative and critical thoughts.
- Facilitators lead a process where ideas are randomly generated and noted down.
- Sorting processes can further refine or categorize the output.
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
- PRA methods comprise a range of field-based visualization, interviewing and group-work techniques, which promote interactive learning, shared knowledge, and flexible yet structured analysis.
- These techniques have proven valuable for understanding local perceptions of the value of resources, processes of agriculture innovation, and social and institutional relations.
- PRA approaches, combining research and practice, also offer opportunities for mobilizing local people for joint action.
- Specific characteristics of PRA include participation of communities in information exchange and in assessment of the actual situation.
- PRA tools include matrix ranking and scoring, preference ranking, transect walks, seasonal calendars, venn diagrams, wealth and well-being rankings, key informant interviews, timelines and resource mapping.
These tools and techniques are not specific to the collection of information for the institutional capabilities framework, but most steps are involved in the capacity needs assessment.