ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Unsung Heroes and Ignored Victims

Data Soldiers

Researchers and academia seldom think about the foot soldiers who collect data by travelling to villages, blocks, or districts and interviewing households and communities.

Research in most cases begins with a quest to close a gap in the existing scientific literature, to inform a policy dialogue, and/or to inform programmatic decisions. Investigators identify a topic for research and set the research process in motion. Regardless of the type of research, data is the crux of research.

The credibility of the research and the researchers depends on the quality of their data. Data can be of many types depending on the discipline and the research questions. For example, in implementation research, mixed methods are typically used, and include survey data, in-depth interview data, observational data, etc. Usually, it is the investigators who develop the data collection instruments. But it is not always possible for them to personally collect all the data required to meaningfully answer their research questions. Therefore, they partner with data firms who help with data collection, leading to a group of data collectors working tirelessly through days or months and collecting the data. These are our data soldiers—also known as enumerators (those who collect survey data) or interviewers (those who collect data using qualitative research methods). We seldom think about the lives of these foot soldiers who collect data by travelling to villages, blocks, or districts and speaking with household members, community members or programme officials, and/or by observing events. This data is collected across hundreds or thousands of respondents and across multiple geographies and time periods.

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Updated On : 28th Aug, 2021

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