1. Collect and collate the data
Once you have determined what data you are going to collect, you then need to decide how you are going to electronically store your data. Try to enter your data into your chosen software package as soon as possible after you collect it.
You may find the following packages helpful for data entry.
Epi Data is a free software package for basic data entry, documentation and analysis.
Epi Info is a free software package for developing a questionnaire or form, developing a data entry process, and entering and analysing data.
Survey monkey is a free (& fee for service) internet based survey tool; you can create surveys, collect and analyse data online.
REDCap is a secure, web-based application designed exclusively to support data capture for research studies and may be of interest for collaborative multi-site research. This application is only available to institutional partners therefore you will need to have affiliations with the relevant institutions. The Murdoch Children Research Institute in Melbourne is a partner.
Teleform is a computer application that enables you to develop questionnaires that, when completed, can be scanned to capture the responses. Teleform reads the questionnaires and provides you with a downloadable file for data cleaning and analyses. A number of private organisations, research institutes and universities provide questionnaire development and data capture services such as the Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics Unit at the RCH in Melbourne.
Make every effort to ensure you collect all pieces of data on all participants to avoid “missing data”. Missing data may result in lost power or bias, therefore weakening the integrity of your results.
2. Analyse the data and interpret findings
Once you have a complete data set, you will be eager to analyse it to determine what the results indicate. Unless you are very knowledgeable and experienced in statistics it is recommended that you consult with someone with expertise in statistics methodology to guide you in your statistical analysis. Contact the hospital or university you’re submitting your project to for ethics approval for advice about statistical consulting services.