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Getting the Right Data Up Front: A Key Challenge

Summary: Rational decisions require transforming data into useful information by appropriate analyses. Such analyses, however, can be only as good as the data upon which they are based. In this article, we urge that careful consideration be given, up front, to procuring the right data and provide some guidelines. We begin by distinguishing briefly between four different approaches to data procurement: designed experiments, census and random sampling studies, observational studies, and so-called systems development studies. We then present and illustrate some key concepts to consider in obtaining the right data and propose a disciplined step-by-step process for data gathering, illustrating this with a study to assess the reliability of a newly designed washing machine. We conclude by commenting on some practical challenges.

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  • Topics: Data Quality
  • Keywords: Data analysis, Data collection, Experiments, Random sampling, Research, Sampling
  • Author: Doganaksoy, Necip; Hahn, Gerald J.
  • Journal: Quality Engineering