meena's blog on health system researchThe art of data collection in health system research: Lessons learned from the field.

Data collection is the most important aspect any research endeavour. Poor quality of the data will have impact on the results of the research study.Therefore it is vital for the researchers to adopt appropriate data collection methods to ensure quality data.Here is a blog by Meena Putturaj which highlights the practicalities of data collection in health systems research based on the field experiences.

Data collection is a crucial aspect of any research project. Depending on the nature and scope of the research question, collecting quality data requires considerable investment of time and resources. Indeed, any research endeavour is handicapped without the relevant data.

During a recent health systems research project, I had to collect a lot of information from government agencies, which turned out to be no cake walk. There were occasions when I had to wait for hours at a time to collect documents, to meet officials, and to conduct interviews. Those waiting periods gave me sufficient time to observe and reflect on the functioning of some of the government agencies in India.

Health systems research often requires data from, and cooperation by, the state sector authorities. So, as a rule of thumb, the health systems researchers work closely with government officials and will require data from them, the interpretation of which might reflect negatively upon those state sector authorities. This can, I think, make some officials and other employees feel that they are being cross examined or interrogated when researchers go to collect data from them. The various situations that I’ve been in while collecting data from government officials have enabled me to develop skills to deal with this tension and the struggle of getting relevant data. The following strategies have worked well for me while trying to obtain data:

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