What Type of Study Collects Data?


Larry Thompson

When it comes to research and data collection, there are various types of studies that can be conducted. The type of study chosen depends on the research question, the available resources, and the desired outcomes. In this article, we will explore some common types of studies that are used to collect data.

Observational Studies

An observational study is a type of study where researchers observe and record data without interfering or manipulating the variables being studied. This type of study is often used in fields such as sociology, psychology, and anthropology. Observational studies can be further categorized into two types:

1. Cross-sectional Studies

A cross-sectional study is a type of observational study that collects data from a population at a specific point in time.

This type of study provides a snapshot of the population’s characteristics or behaviors at that particular moment. Cross-sectional studies are useful for examining associations between variables but cannot establish causation.

2. Cohort Studies

A cohort study is an observational study that follows a group of individuals over a period of time to investigate how certain factors may influence outcomes or behaviors.

Cohort studies can be prospective (following participants forward in time) or retrospective (looking back at past data). These studies are useful for establishing causal relationships between variables.

Experimental Studies

An experimental study is a type of study where researchers manipulate variables to determine their impact on certain outcomes. Experimental studies often involve randomly assigning participants to different groups and comparing their responses to different treatments or interventions.

1. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs)

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) is considered the gold standard in experimental research.

In an RCT, participants are randomly assigned to either an intervention group (receiving the treatment being studied) or a control group (receiving a placebo or standard treatment). RCTs allow researchers to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables. Quasi-experimental Studies

In some cases, it is not feasible or ethical to conduct a randomized controlled trial.

In such situations, researchers may opt for quasi-experimental studies. These studies still involve manipulation of variables but lack random assignment. Quasi-experimental studies can provide valuable insights but may have limitations in establishing causation.


Surveys are a common type of study used to collect data from individuals about their opinions, behaviors, or experiences. Surveys can be conducted through various methods, including online questionnaires, telephone interviews, or in-person interviews.

Case Studies

A case study is an in-depth analysis of an individual, a group, or a specific situation. Case studies often involve collecting data from multiple sources such as interviews, observations, and document analysis. They provide rich qualitative data and are particularly useful for exploring complex phenomena.


In summary, there are several types of studies that can be used to collect data depending on the research question and the desired outcomes. Observational studies provide valuable insights into associations between variables, while experimental studies allow for establishing causal relationships.

Surveys and case studies offer unique perspectives and qualitative data. By understanding the different types of studies available, researchers can choose the most appropriate approach to collect data for their research projects.

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