49+ Sample Data Collection Sheets

What Is a Data Collection Sheet?

A data collection sheet is a basic sheet or document used in gathering data. It is a data collection tool used in a variety of fields and disciplines including project management, research and business.  

According to an article by Harvard Business School, the data life cycle can be summarized in eight steps. It begins with data generation, followed by its collection, processing, storage, management, analysis, visualization, and finally, interpretation. 

Sample Data Collection Techniques 

Data gathering is just one part of a complex process or system of research. However, it is one of the most fundamental and important steps. Without data collection, you cannot make informed and educated decisions. There can be many ways to gather data but the following examples are just some of the most common and universal methods.  

Survey Forms. One of the most common and widely practiced data collection techniques is using a survey. There can be formal and informal surveys, but written surveys are generally more reliable and acceptable. A survey is a crucial tool not just in gathering information, but also in gauging and establishing patterns or trends. The survey form is merely a vehicle for information for researchers to understand and ascertain behaviors and patterns. It can be used to study both qualitative and quantitative data. Lastly, it is critical to note that on its own, surveys can only provide a glimpse or portion of the whole picture. It would be a mistake to make undue assumptions or hasty generalizations based solely on a survey’s sample pool. With this, it is important to question and scrutinize the criteria or method for selecting respondents.Interviews. Another common data gathering technique, apart from surveys, is interviews. Conducting interviews is an excellent way to obtain direct and primary information. A first hand account from witnesses or subjects of a study is valuable information. Face-to-face interviews and meetings are preferred. But written correspondence, audio and video interviews can work just as well. Of course, you still have to discern and interpret your interview transcripts. But if you want to retain authenticity and credibility of the interviews, it’s important to exercise objectivity. As much as possible, avoid coloring the responses with your own personal biases and judgments. If you want to be on the safe side, it might be best to take the information at face value. As an interviewer or data collector, you need to respect the process and the interviewee, regardless of your views on them or the situation. Research. Research might be an obvious data collection method but it can come in different forms and degrees. Whether it is through old school library research or a basic Google search, it is important to know how to conduct proper research. If you don’t prepare the right tools, you run the risk of doing poor quality research. Even research demands quality standards. Not only should you ensure your sources are sound and credible, but the work should also be relevant to the objective of your research. With all kinds of information widely available, it can be pretty easy to veer off track and follow a path that may not hold any true significance to the purpose of your study. Thus, it is important to know what to look for and to plan your approach carefully. A focused research approach is better than a disorganized and vague study. Observation. Another basic but invaluable method of data collection is observation. It may sound obvious and plain on the surface, but the power of observation should not be underestimated. It takes a keen and vigilant eye to pay attention and actually notice your surroundings. The ability to read the room does not come without keen observation skills. If you are inattentive and oblivious to what’s around, you might just miss out on small and seemingly minor details. You can already deduce much from merely observing others or how things work. For example, school administrators can gather data just by sitting in and observing a teacher handle and manage a classroom. Fortunately, good observation skills can be learned and sharpened. It takes practice, but it is entirely possible to train yourself to be more detail-oriented and attentive.

Types of Data 

Data can be classified in different ways. One common method of categorizing data is grouping it according to its type. The examples below describe two major types of data that are typically used in formal research methods. 

Numerical Data. Otherwise known as quantitative data, numerical data is obviously concerned with numbers. But more than just numbers and figures, this type of data is measurable and quantifiable. In other words, it is easier to make tangible conclusions with numerical data when compared with non-numerical data. For instance, statistics can be relatively harder to refute. Whereas, one person’s verbal account or narrative can easily be subjected to scrutiny. Quantitative data can also be represented in various ways. From tables, pie charts, bar graphs, to balance sheets, there are a number of ways to present and make sense of numbers. For example, it may help readers understand the concept better if you use a bar graph versus just a list of numbers. It is always important to think of the reader or audience when presenting your data. If it cannot be comprehended in layman’s terms, then it’s best to think twice about it. Qualitative Data. The other category of data is qualitative data. Unlike quantitative data, there are no numbers or figures involved. Information is usually presented with words, narratives and arguments. Interview transcripts and historical accounts are just some common examples of qualitative data. This type of data is not as easily measured compared to numerical data. There is a lot of sifting and discerning in qualitative data. It is also prone or open to more interpretation. Even if qualitative data comes in the form of stories, narratives and recollection, it is still possible to come up with tangible and hard evidence. It all depends on how well you are able to use quantitative data techniques. By exercising objectivity and responsibility in your research, quantitative data can be excellent primary and secondary research sources.

How to Create a Data Collection Sheet

To create a data collection sheet, careful planning and preparation are required. But if you are looking for quick and easy templates to use as a reference guide, you can choose from among dozens of editable data collection sheets from the curated selection above. Pick one that suits your needs and follow the step-by-step guide below.    

Step 1: Plan and Outline

As emphasized earlier, it is crucial to plan out your data collection strategy before anything else. If your goal is to conduct reliable and quality research, you should not overlook or give lesser importance to the planning phase. Planning and preparation are key ingredients for successful data gathering. Planning your approach well can help minimize mistakes in the actual collection of data. One simple and practical way of doing this is by creating an outline. Just like any plan of action, having an outline can help serve as a guide that will enable you to stay focused on the key points and objectives.      

Step 2: Choose a Format

After sufficient planning and preparation, the next step is to establish a format that you can work with. As discussed in previous sections, data collection can come in different forms. The previous sections touched on some of these common methods and techniques. The format you use is directly linked to the kind of data collection method you choose. For instance, a survey form typically comes in a questionnaire type of format. Feedback forms are similar too. Your format must be an appropriate or suitable fit to your methodology. Lastly, your data gathering sheet or form can either be physical or electronic. These days, online forms are more convenient and present a paperless and more environment-friendly alternative.   

Step 3: Fill In the Details  

Once you have decided on a format, the next step is filling in the rest of the details. Since the purpose is data collection, be specific on what kind of data you are after. That is why it is important to be clear on what you need and want. You should be able to maximize your data collection sheet. Most people do not want to be bothered with long and complicated data collection sheets. Thus, it’s important to phrase your questions and items in a clear and direct way. If you are unsure of how to proceed, it might be helpful to put yourself in the respondent’s shoes. Picture yourself as the interviewee or as the person who is about to answer the survey questionnaire.    

Step 4: Gather Data 

Once you have reviewed and finalized your document, the next step would obviously be to gather the necessary data. You have to go out and actually obtain the data using a variety of methods and techniques. How you choose your sample or pool of respondents is also critical. Depending on the objectives of your data collection, there is usually a standard process of choosing respondents. Random sampling is common practice as well. This is done to eliminate unnecessary biases and prejudice that may compromise the study. At the end of the day, what matters is ensuring that the respondents are eligible and they fit your criteria.  


What is a data collection sheet?

A data collection sheet is a formal document that is used to obtain data or information to serve a particular purpose or objective.

How do you create a data collection form?

To create a data collection form, you need to plan out your approach properly. Refer to the tutorial guide in the previous section for more detailed instructions on how to create a data collection sheet. If you are pressed for time, using a ready-made template can save you a lot of energy and effort.

What are data sheets used for?

Data sheets are used for several purposes. For academic and commercial research, they are essential tools needed for sound decision-making and for making informed choices.

Data collection sheets are more than just mere documents. They are essential research tools. Browse the wide selection of sample templates above to get started on your own data collection sheet today!