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Step 6: Collect Data

The sixth step is to collect data. In some cases, especially if you have experience with this type of work, you may be able to do this yourself. Otherwise, you can use a contractor or recruit a graduate student from a local university to help you carry out the research. In doing this type of data collection, your ultimate goal is to get the best data so that you can make well-informed decisions, and not necessarily to conduct generalizable research. Adjust the way you collect data, the order of questions, and the wording of questions if you find that something isn't working.

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If you and your stakeholders have the opportunity to observe data collection in action, it is an incredibly valuable experience. For example, if you are doing focus groups and have a one-way mirror arrangement, it is helpful to bring in as many people from your team as possible to observe the discussion. Watching a focus group first-hand will help you see how your target audience responds to questions, how they differ from each other and how they may differ from your own expectations. These observations can go a long way towards understanding your audience, and therefore facilitate later group discussions about the program.