3.10 Data-Collection Methods and Tools

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Expected time: 15 minutes

Collecting data requires appropriate data-collection tools, such as an abstraction form, for recording information.


The two most commonly used collection methods are paper-based and electronic recording.

  • Paper-based methods are still widely used for vital registration, surveillance and research purposes.
    • Potential advantages:
      • May be cost-effective for low-resource settings
    • Potential disadvantages:
      • More prone to human error, since transcription is required
      • Requires more time to collect and transfer data
  • Electronic methods are improving as technology evolves. The ideal electronic collection tool should be able to collect data and provide data securely to a data management centre for storage and analysis.
    • Potential advantages:
      • Improves record accuracy
      • Allows quick data transfer to a data management centre
      • Identifies missing data in a timely manner
      • Ability to take and transfer digital photographs
    • Potential disadvantages:
      • More vulnerable to theft
      • Can compromise privacy/security if data are not encrypted
      • Requires training on how to use an electronic system


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