Gathering Data: Things to consider before gathering data

Catalogue number: 892000062020005

Release date: September 23, 2020 Updated: November 25, 2021

By the end of this video, you should understand how to determine what data you need, where to find data, how to gather data (whether from existing sources or by doing a survey) and how to keep data safe.

Note that data gathering is usually called "data collection" when conducting a survey.

Data journey step
Define, find, gather
Data competency
Data gathering
Suggested prerequisites

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Gathering Data: Things to consider before gathering data - Transcript

Gathering Data: Things to Consider Before Gathering Data - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Gathering Data: Things to Consider Before Gathering Data")

Gathering data: things to consider before gathering data

Data gathering involves first determining what data you need, then where to find it, how to get it, and how to keep it safe. This video introduces you to things you should consider when gathering data.

Learning goals

By the end of this video you should understand how to determine what data you need, where to find it, how to gather data, whether from existing sources, or by doing a survey, and how to keep it safe. Note that data gathering is usually called data collection.

Steps of a data journey

(Diagram of the Steps of the data journey: Step 1 - define, find, gather; Step 2 - explore, clean, describe; Step 3 - analyze, model; Step 4 - tell the story. The data journey is supported by a foundation of stewardship, metadata, standards and quality.)

When conducting a survey, this diagram is a visual representation of the data journey from collecting the data to exploring, cleaning, describing, and understanding the data to analyzing the data, and Lastly to communicating with others the story that day to tell.

Step 1: Find, gather and protect

(Diagram of the Steps of the data journey with an emphasis on Step 1 - Find, gather, protect.)

(Text on screen: Showing relationship between two things)

Looking into how to gather data is part of the find gather an protect step of the data journey some data are gathered for statistical or research purposes in other situations data are gathered for regulatory purposes or to provide an individualized service to Canadians no matter what the purposes for data gathering the aspects to consider are similar.

Determining what data you need

The first thing to consider before gathering data is to fully articulate what questions you're trying to answer. Who do you want to draw conclusions about? Is it all Canadians or all businesses in a certain sector of the economy? This is the target population. Next. What's the individual unit you want to look at? Is it a person, family, household, or a business? This is called the unit of observation.

What is the time frame you want to look at? Do you want to look at only one period of time, or do you want to have data for multiple time periods? Also, what level of quality do you need in the data when looking at different data sources? Consider how and for what purpose the data was created.

Will IT support the level of analysis that you want to do? What characteristics or attributes are you interested in? Are they all available on a single data source, or will you have to use two or more different data sources? It's important to know at the outset what you looking for and then to assess all potential data sources against these criteria.

Where to find data

When you deciding which ones to use. The first place to look for data are open source is the Government of Canada has a wealth of data available to all Canadians in the open data portal. Statistics Canada has public use microdata files, aggregated data products and many data products free for download. Online sources are also an option.

Data sources are also available, but with some restrictions on who can use them or out of cost. Statistics Canada offers researchers access to data through research, data centers. Statistics Canada also offers remote access to data under certain conditions under certain constraints. Service providers such as Internet and power companies, offer data products, sometimes for a fee if no existing data will meet your needs, you can do a survey to collect new data as a last resort. We want to emphasize it. Doing a survey should be a last resort. It's by far the most costly and complex option for gathering data. To learn more about how to do a survey, please refer to the course surveys from start to finish. Course code 10H0085 on the Statistics Canada website.

How to gather data

The first step in gathering data is to prepare a plan. The plan should cover which data source or sources will be used in all the steps to acquire the data. For example, what are the steps if there's a protocol that must be followed, is it necessary to negotiate with the data owner, estimate the time it will take to get the data and the cost both in terms of fees, if any, an storage costs take into account the skill set required for gathering the data, the plan could include a business case to explain our request for funding. The data might be structured, meaning it's already in some sort of database or format where the variables are separated, or it might be unstructured, such as sensor data or web scraped data that will require some manipulation to put it into a usable format. For more information about day to see the video on types of data.

No matter where the data come from, the quality of the data needs to be monitored throughout the gathering process to ensure that anomalies responded. Once the data are gathered, the next steps are to clean Explorer and describe the data. For more about these steps, see the videos for the clean Explorer and describe step in the data journey.

Keeping data safe

When you gather data, you need to consider the following privacy by collecting only the information that is needed to reach your objective security. By keeping data safe from unauthorized access and use confidentiality by not releasing information that could directly or indirectly identify information sources, transparency in your process is consult your organization's policies and guidelines to ensure that your meeting privacy and security requirements.

Canada has municipal, provincial, territorial and national jurisdictions that govern privacy and security requirements. Consult these as well as your organization's privacy and security policies and guidelines as they relate to your data gathering exercise.

Recap of key points

Data gathering involves first articulating what questions you're trying to answer. Next, look for existing open source data. If you can't find what you need there, try existing sources that have some restrictions as a last resort, do a survey to collect new data. Make a plan for all the steps and gathering data. Be sure to protect the privacy and security of the data.

(The Canada Wordmark appears.)

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