Data types and sources

Collecting good data is the foundation on which you gather evidence and make sense of it. Decide what data you need when you design your project, then you can gather the right information from the start, and throughout the project.

There are two general types of data – quantitative and qualitative and both are equally important. You use both types to demonstrate effectiveness, importance or value.

QUANTITATIVE DATA

Quantitative data is information that you can measure. It’s numbers –something you can count. Because it’s countable it can be reliable evidence. Examples include:

  • How many people took part?
  • How much did it cost?
  • How long did it run for?
  • Average attendance at each programme session?

QUALITATIVE DATA

Qualitative data is information about qualities, you can’t count it. That is, it’s information about how people feel about something. Examples include:

  • Sharing what people like about a programme.
  • How they think it could be improved.
  • What difference it has made to their lives.
  • Whether they would recommend the programme to others.

Quantitative Data vs Quantitative Data

Here are examples of sources of quantitative and qualitative data:

QUANTITATIVE DATA SOURCESQUALITATIVE DATA SOURCES
Programme information – numbers involved, what happens when, who it is for, cost, participation levels.Getting feedback on a programme – weekly check-ins, surveys, groups discussions, before-and-after programme questions.
Statistics and statutory data.Stories of participants' experience and impact.
Environmental monitoring such as bird counts, seeds planted and fish stocks.Observation of a programme.
Structured surveys involving multiple-choice, rating scales or other closed questions.Document review such as literature reviews.
Control groups – comparing one group that experienced a programme with another similar group that did not.Interviews involving open-ended questions with backers, service providers and participants.
Recording transactions, such as website hits.Visual methods such as photos, DVDs and art or participants’ creative works.

USEFUL LINKS

CHOOSING INDICATORS

Find out what indicators are, their types and how to choose them.