After reading this term paper you will learn about:- 1. The Stimulus to Datum Sequence 2. Responses of Data Collection 3. Setting 4. Sources.
Term Paper # 1. The Stimulus to Datum Sequence:
A datum is what is observed, is manifest or phenotypical. Data in social sciences, as in other sciences, are based on our sense-observations. The word ‘observation’ as used here includes all forms of perception used in recording responses as they impinge upon our sensor. But response is not a datum. A response is some manifest kind of action, whereas a datum is the product of the process of recording the response.
The continuum from response (which is observed) to the datum (which is observed and recorded) has been presented by Johan Galtung as under:
The stimuli (questions, tests, pictures or other objects) presented to the respondent (subject) may be classified as:
(a) Systematic stimuli, and
(b) Unsystematic stimuli.
By systematic we mean those that are kept constant while objects are changed, i.e., all units (subjects) are exposed to the same standardized stimuli systematically. Contrariwise, the stimuli are unsystematic when they lack standardisation, e.g., informal interviews where subjects are asked questions they are most likely to find meaningful.
Term Paper # 2. Responses of Data Collection:
The responses of the subjects to the stimuli may similarly be classified as:
(a) Systematic responses, and
(b) Unsystematic responses.
Systematic responses have a reference to constant (definite, standardized) response categories. Thus, the responses of subject to a stimulus (SI) are recorded on a predetermined set of response category (R1). Contrariwise, the responses are unsystematic where the answer is recorded verbatim with due regard to all possible individual variations and character logical nuances (as in informal interviews).
Term Paper # 3. Setting of Data Collection:
Bringing these categories of stimuli and responses together in a single complex table, we get the main setting for data collection as under:
Thus, the possible settings for the collection of data are:
(b) Formal unstructured.
(c) Formal structured.
The responses of the subjects may be characterized as acts. Inaction or silence on the part of the subject may also constitute an important response, often more revealing than many responses which can be called ‘acts.’ Acts in the sense may be classified into (a) verbal, and (b) non-verbal.
The verbal acts may be sub-divided into oral and written. Verbal acts are acts where verbal symbols are used to communicate. The non-verbal acts are like bowing, clapping, shrugging shoulders, etc. The oral-verbal acts consist of the subject replying to a stimulus by the word of the mouth. The other kind of verbal acts consist in writing out the responses/replies to the stimulus.
If we intertwine the three kinds of manifest acts with the three settings of data collection, we get a table with nine boxes or cells. This break down table (given below) brings out most of the known procedures of data collection utilized in social sciences.
The contents of different cells in the table may be considered to be general ideas that may also be used to generate other techniques of data collection.
Term Paper # 4. Sources of Data Collection:
1. The Paper Sources of Data:
The two main sources of data (information) relevant to the research problem) in social research come from the inner world of library and the outside world of living people. We may broadly designate these two main sources simply, the ‘paper’ and ‘people.’
‘Paper’ sources may provide the social or behavioural scientist a wealth of usable information. It is often unnecessary and uneconomical to expend time and energy mounting field-surveys to collect information readily obtainable from authentic ‘paper’ sources. Under the general rubric of documentary or ‘paper’ sources, we may subsume historical records, diaries, biographies and statistical records, etc.
When we turn to consider ‘people’ as the potential source of social science data, we identify various forms of observation but more particularly and primarily, the interview and questionnaire, as the techniques for collection of data from this source.
2. Documentary Sources of Data:
Let us turn to discuss the typical and the major limitations of the documentary or ‘paper’ sources of data. The social scientist as a rule has important facility in that the events and processes which concern him are human beings mostly living through them.
Written evidence thus has straight-forward function of providing facts and figures and the indirect function of helping us project our understanding onto other times and places.
It is customary to distinguish between the sources of documentary data as primary and secondary. The ‘primary’ sources provide data gathered at firsthand and the ‘secondary’ ones are those from which data are got at, secondhand, that is, sets of data are culled from other people’s original data. It is not always easy, however, to be able to determine whether a particular source is ‘primary’ or ‘secondary.’
This is so because in much published work, there is not just one writer who would have collected the information himself. For example, as for the census report, one can hardly say that the Commissioner of Census himself is the author.
He does not collect data personally. But the census data are regarded as ‘primary’ data since the Commissioner is a single entity collecting and analysing the information gathered at firsthand through field workers under this charge.
The distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ can be made even more useful if a further division of documents between what John Madge calls ‘records’ and ‘reports’ were to be effected. ‘Record’ is primarily concerned with a transaction taking place now, whereas the ‘report’ is usually written after the events has taken place (e.g., a historical account).
Cross-tabulating these two contrast sets, i.e., Primary-Secondary and Contemporary — (Record) Retrospective (Report), we get a fourfold classification of documentary sources, as shown below:
Cells (1) to (4) connote as follows:
(1) Compiled at the time by the writer.
(2) Transcribed from primary contemporary sources.
(3) Compiled after the event by the writer.
(4) Transcribed from primary retrospective sources.
It should be noted that the cells in the above table, however, do not represent watertight compartments; these should rather be regarded as displaying the general categories which may cut into one another.
The fourfold categorization helps us, nevertheless, to identify common features of the different kinds of documents. John Madge proposes that documents, for the sake of convenience, may be broadly divided into two groups.
The first of these groups would comprise the personal documents, the authors of which describe events in which they participated or indicate their personal beliefs and attitudes. Such documents are essentially subjective and are generally distinguishable from the second group which consists of the public or official documentation of social activity, hence relatively speaking, more objective.