Under this method, the investigator collects the data indirectly by interviewing the third persons who are supposed to be in close touch with the original informants or the incidence. This method of collecting the data is adopted when the original informants are either not found or found to be reluctant to part with the desired information, or the incidence concerned is not accessible. Such type of method is usually adopted by enquiry committees is not accessible. Such type of method is usually adopted by the enquiry committees or commissions appointed by a government – Central or a State. In this type of enquiry, usually a small list of questions is prepared and the persons connected with th4e matter (known as witnesses) are individually invited and asked to answer to those questions. The replies given by them are recorded systematically by the investigatory. The accuracy of the data collected under this method would largely depend upon the type of the persons selected for interrogations and depositions. For reliability of the data it is required that the persons so selected:
- Should be fully aware of the problem under study.
- Should not be motivated to give colours to the facts.
- Should not be biased and prejudiced.
- Should be capable of expressing himself (herself) correctly and precisely.
- Should neither be optimist nor pessimist by normal in character.
However, this method of collecting the primary data has the following merits and demerits:
- A wide area can be covered within a given time.
- It needs less amount of resources in terms of time, energy, and money.
- Prejudices of the original informants are eliminated as the information are recorded from the disinterested third parties.
- It ensures accuracy in information as the data are collected by the investigator himself with the exercise of his intelligence, skill, tack and adminstration of cross – examinations.
- It allows for getting the expert views and suggestions of the specialists in the conduct of the enquiry efficiently and effectively.
- The facts obtained from the third parties may not be reliable at times.
- The third parties, may at times be actuated by some motive and thus depose fabricated information.
- The evidence given by the witness may be affected by their inherent psychology viz. optimism or pessimism. In this connection, the interesting example of two drunkards (One optimist and another pessimist) left with half a bottle of wine each makes the point very clear. The optimist drunkard said, “What do I care for the world, I have yet half the bottle with me.” And the pessimist drunkard said, “what can I do in this world, I have only half the bottle with me.” In this case, the statement of both the drunkards were correct but give different impressions.
- A wrong and improper choice of the witness by bribery, nepotism or undue requests for which the true information obtained may be twisted by them.
Through Local Correspondents Method of Data Collection
Under this method, the investigator collects the required data through the local correspondents and agents placed in the different regions of the enquiry. Such type of data collecting method is usually adopted by the newspapers, or periodical agencies, and various departments of a government who require regular information from a wide area on various matters viz. economics, commerce, politics, agriculture, sports, accidents, riots, strikes, lock-outs, stock markets, births and deaths etc. The correspondents, or the agents so appointed at the different localities collect the relevant information in their own say s and fashions and submit them periodically to the investigating offices for their necessary use and analysis. In the fitness of the thing, such data cannot be very reliable and as such this method is suitable in those cases where the information is to be gathered regularly from a wide area and the purpose of the investigation can be served regularly from a wide area and the purpose of the investigation can be served with rough estimates only without insisting on a high degree of precision. However, the relative merits and demerits of this method can be outlined as under:
- It does not require any formal procedure and hence, a lot of botherations associated therewith is avoided.
- It is less expensive in terms of both money, time and energy.
- The quality of the data is likely to be better since they are collected through the local agents who happen to be in close touch with the events or the source of the data.
- The data can be collected expeditiously from a wide area.
- The data are not very reliable as they are obtained informally through the correspondents who collect the data in their own way s and according to their own likings and decisions.
- The local agents may use foul play in supplying the data regularly and correctly.
- The data are likely to be fabricated and twisted by the correspondents to aggrandize their ulterior motives.