Geography: Data Collection, Processing and Analysis: Objectives, Steps in Data Collection, Tools and Techniques of Data Collection

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  • In the previous chapter we have learnt about the concept and approaches of local area planning for which data is a necessary condition. In this chapter we will discuss about the procedures followed in data collection processing and analysis. In our routine life we come across several information through print, audio and visual media, social gatherings, and discussions.

  • But how data for this information is collected, processed, and analysed? The collection of data refers to a plan for gathering data, information from field situations. A set of procedure is followed to get the desired data/ information from the field work in geography, to process and analyse the facts in a logical and scientific manner.


The major objectives of this chapter are:

  • To identify the steps and issues involved in data collection

  • To describe various tools and techniques of data collection

  • To know about questionnaire, schedule, rating scales etc.

  • To know what a sample is, sampling techniques, universe of the study etc.

  • To make simple tables and diagrams from the collected data

  • To analyse tables, maps, diagrams, photographs and charts, and generalize the results and make suggestions

Steps in Data Collection

Broadly speaking there are three major steps in data collection.

  • One can ask people questions related to the problem being investigated.

  • One can make observations related to places, people, and organizations their products or outcomes.

  • One can utilize existing records or data already gathered by others for the purpose.

The first two steps relate to the collection of primary data while the third step relates to the collection of secondary data. The information/data collected by a person directly is known as primary data while records or data collected from offices/institutions is known as secondary data.

Steps in Primary Data Collection

Collection of primary data involves the following steps:

  • Making oneself ready both mentally as well as physically for collecting primary data from field situations.

  • Keeping a field book/record book or diary for writing relevant information, doing field sketching, or writing records of the occurrence of phenomenon at specific time intervals.

  • Administering questionnaire schedule to the target groups of area people across sampled sites.

  • Verifying the facts through cross checks in the answers and ground realties.

  • Integrating the observations, responses, and recorded facts in a systematic and logical framework.

Steps in Secondary Data Collection

The collection of secondary data involves the following steps:

  • Knowledge about the offices/institutes etc. and keeping the record of relevant data is of prime importance to obtain the secondary data/information.

  • Get an official letter containing your requirements of data and purpose of data collection from your Principal/Head of the Institute. Your identity card is also an essential requirement to get an entry in the offices.

  • Keep a notebook/record file to transfer data for the purpose. It could also be done with the help of photo copying systems.

  • The secondary data, thus, collected forms the basis for tabulation and processing as per need.

Identification of Issues

It is very important to identify clearly the issues that are going to be assessed. Depending upon the availability of time, cost, manpower and tools, a framework of issues to be covered need to be developed. In case of local area planning the following issues need to be considered.

  • Issues related to environmental conditions like environmental degradation, quality of human life etc.

  • Social issues like people’s perception, literacy status, health hazards, incidence of crime etc.

  • Economic issues like employment, expenditure pattern, flow of goods and commodities etc.

  • Population study for agriculture, industry etc.

  • Land use study for agriculture, industry etc.

  • Facilities and amenities available for social and economic development.

  • Problems related to growth of economy such as irrigation, means of transportation, availability of power etc.

  • Focal theme of planning like provision of basic amenities in slum areas, pollution control, clean environment in an industrial area.

Tools and Techniques of Data Collection

For data collection we make use of certain tools and follow specific techniques. The tools that help in data collection are as under:

  • Observing the phenomenon and recording the details.

  • Inquiring about the facts through questionnaires/schedules.

  • Making measurements.

  • Conducting tests.

  • Recording the events.

Now let us study some of these tools and techniques of data collection.


  • The questionnaires or interview schedules are the set of questions framed for the specific purpose of data collection through field work. The questionnaire serves two purposes. First, it translates the objectives of the field work into specific questions which help in the collection of necessary data. The data collected through the responses of the questions forms the basis of understanding the problem or explore the idea set by the objective. In order to achieve these objectives, each question must communicate to the respondent the idea or group of ideas required by the objective and obtain a response which can be analysed to fulfil the objectives. The question must perform these functions with minimum distortion of the response it deals. In asking a question to the respondents, we assume that he possesses adequate knowledge, opinion or attitude. Each question should, therefore, be constructed so as to elicit a response which accurately and completely reflects each respondent’s position.

  • The second purpose of questionnaire is to assist interviewer in motivating the respondent to communicate the required information. There are many factors which determine the respondent’s willingness to engage in an interview. The questionnaire itself does much to determine the nature of interviewer-respondent relationship. Thus, the quantity and quality of data collected depends largely on the nature of questionnaire.

Contents of Questionnaire

The following two types of information should from the contents of questionnaire:

  • Identity or location specific contents

  • Respondent centred contents.

Form of Questionnaire

The form of questionnaire depends upon some of the factors such as willingness of the respondents, usefulness of the information and its level, language, sequence of questions, single idea etc.

The Interview

The process of conducting interviews starts soon after the formulation of questionnaire is complete. The investigator should have a letter of introduction to explain about himself in the field. The letter of introduction must have a note that the information so collected is going to be used for the purposes of presentations and educational use only. The information will remain anonymous completely. While conducting interviews, we should help in removing the difficulties of the respondents without giving any clue as to the answer required. As far as possible we are not supposed to make any responses or show any expressions to the answers. Finally, we should pay regards and express thanks to the respondents for their co-operation.

The formulations of questionnaires serve two purposes:

  • First translate the objectives of the fieldwork into specific questions which help in collection of data.

  • The second purpose is to assist the interviewer in motivating the respondents to communicate the required information.

Various factors which affect the form of questionnaires are:

  • Willingness of the respondent.

  • The frame of reference.

  • Usefulness of the information.

  • Possibility of misunderstanding.

  • Type of questions.

  • The information levels.

  • Social acceptance.

  • Single idea.

  • Sequence of question

The Schedules

The schedules are the timed plan for a survey. It reflects time specific recording of the phenomena like traffic survey, consumer behaviour survey, precipitation pattern etc. The investigator must record the occurrence of a phenomenon over a specific time interval. The time is an important reference of analysis. It could be in convenient units of hours, minutes or seconds depending upon the frequency of occurrences. Similarly, a phenomenon is more often associated with several elements. Hence, the record book needs to have further subdivisions both on X as well as on Y axis.

  • What phenomenon to be selected and recorded in order to obtain the required information?

  • Under what conditions are observations to be made? How is the observational situation structured?

  • Can a score be assigned to the observation and what are the characteristics of that score?

  • How stable are the observations? Can the same results be obtained under the same conditions?

  • Whether the phenomenon observed has functional unity with same process?

Rating Scales

By the term rating scale, we mean a scale with a set of points, which describe varying degrees of dimension being observed. Rating scales are most often used in either of two ways- to record the pattern at frequent intervals, or to rate the entire event after it has ended. Thus, rating scales, which contain a variety of items at each point on the scale, are more efficient since they can provide more data per observer, more dimensions per unit of area and time. Investigator observes a number of acts throughout the situation, integrates them in his mind, and makes a judgment as to which point on a number of scales best described his interpretation of the varied behaviour. The following examples offer an idea of rating scales.

Temperature Conditions

Temp Conditions
Temp Conditions

Very Cold



Moderately Warm


Very Hot







Development Level

Development Level
Development Level


Very Low Level

Low Level

Medium Level

High Level

Very High Level







Field Sketches

Making of field sketches on the spot is an essential component of field survey in geography. These are simple, rough drawings, or design done rapidly to depict the ground truth on a piece of paper. Geographical facts like structure or form of physical landscape, location and site, mobility, intensity of interactions, patterns of level use, distance, directions, and interdependence of certain natural or cultural objects can be depicted symbolically in the form of field sketches.


Camera is one of the important equipment that is needed during the course of a field work and data collection. It is needed for taking photographs of typical features. Photographs present the view of a landscape in its totality, activity in operation, and events in their occurrences. Photographs provide comprehensive data bases for analysis and interpretation. Certain aspects that need more time to record such as conditions in a slum locality, variety of landscapes, plant species, office, and factory systems can be photographed, and the output can be used for the explanations and analysis. Photographs are used to supplement the results.

Methods of Administering the Questionnaires and Survey Schedules

The questionnaires are the set of questions framed for specific purpose of field work. Before designing the questions, the purpose of specific problem is divided into various steps and phases. After this logical sequence of questions is to be developed so that desired response can be obtained. The coding of questions (each question to be given a numerical code) is another important dimension required for the transfer of data/information to computers. The whole questionnaire is divided into schedules sets like household schedule, amenities and facilities schedule, function or activity schedule. Thus, the questionnaire is a set of schedules having purpose specific questions. Schedule of time is another dimension worked out to complete the field work in given period. Normally, the administration of questionnaire will follow a sequence of procedures in the manner given below:

Building Rapport

It refers to the atmosphere of entire relationship between respondent and interviewer. It would be necessary for him to establish a deeper kind of personal relationship with the respondent.

Asking the Questions

The interviewer’s job of asking questions from the questionnaire is through the use of carefully worded questions transmitted to the respondent in verbatim which will help in achieving most of the standardization in the interview. The major aims of putting questions to a variety of respondents is to have complete and clear response about the point of investigation.

Use of the Field Sketches and Sketch Maps

The field sketches are additional supports to the questionnaires in the collection of primary data. Field sketches supplement the set of information by producing a rough image of physical as well as cultural landscapes. These are the free hand pencil or pen drawn images on the field diary. These sketches help remembering and recollection of field relations. They also substantiate the facts as a visual presentation.

Collection of Information

Both the tools of registration and recording help us in the collection of primary data. With the help of these tools, we try to transfer the facts from field into data and tables. In this process of collection, there is obviously the loss of some information. Nevertheless, a good deal of satisfactory information is collected and utilized for the purpose of analysis and interpretation. Based on the set of questionnaires, schedule administered to the respondent, the desired information/data is collected. The collection of information could be a routine as well as specific purpose exercise. The routine data collection could relate to daily sales, commuting population, movements of goods etc. Similarly, recording of weather elements like temperature, air pressure, precipitation, direction of winds, cloud cover, sea conditions etc. is a routine data collection. There are many other examples of daily data collection. Based on the daily information or facts, seasonal trends, and annual averages are worked out. The purpose specific data is collected at one point of time only.

Precautions in Collecting the Information

The task of collecting the needed genuine information is difficult one. The collection of data from field situations is a complicated affair compared to the office or organizational situation. To get an unambiguous, unbiased, and correct information from field, specific precautions need to be observed. These are related to the non-cooperation, incorrect information, and tensions. The following precautions need to be observed to overcome these difficulties:

  • The collection of information needs to be done in a friendly way. The interviewer is supposed to remain humble, polite, and establish good rapport with the respondent.

  • The use of words and sentences should not sound unfamiliar and causing hurt to the sentiments of the respondents. Such words and sentences need to be replaced by more appropriate words.

  • Socially unacceptable questions need to be avoided. If so required, indirect information be used for the purpose.

  • The respondents should not be kept in dark about the purpose of the field work. The respondent may not like to answer the questions if he is not clearly explained about the objective of the fieldwork and more specifically about his selection as sample for the data collection.

  • The respondent needs to be assured of his/her identity and response to remain undisclosed (anonymous) and his/her cooperation to be duly acknowledged in the work.

  • The intentions of the interview need to be given convincing explanations. The information collected is in no way going to affect the respondent adversely i.e., to impose a check upon his activities.

Selection of Samples and Sample Size

A sample is a part of a larger group or area selected for obtaining information about the whole group or area known as the universe of the study. The part of the whole is called sample and is used to ascertain the characteristics of the universe of the study. While choosing a sample, the population is assumed to be composed of individual area units or members of the group. Some of these units or members of the population selected for detailed study are called the samples. The procedure dealing with the selection of a part of a group from the universe to obtain information about the whole or the universe is known as sampling. A scheme for obtaining a suitable sample from a given universe is known as sampling design. It also indicates the size of the sample to be used keeping in view the cost involved and the precision of the result required. When the entire universe is taken into consideration for the study, it is known as census survey. Examples are population census, agricultural census and so on.

Identification of Samples

The identification of samples is the first task while conducting the field survey. The selection of sample should be such that it reflects the characteristics of the whole. The sample should not be identical as it leads to error.

Sampling Techniques

Samples are selected to avoid unnecessary large expenditures likely to be incurred on the total survey of all the units of universe of study. Moreover, a sample study can be completed in a lesser time period compared to the study of universe or population. The level of accuracy also increases when we study smaller area units and vice versa in case of the universe. The measures of assessments, estimates, and projections can be better used for the purpose of planning, execution, and diffusion studies. Some of the popular sampling techniques are discussed here.

Systematic Sampling

The items selected from the population are chosen in a regular way. Such a procedure of sampling is called a systematic sampling. For example, selection of samples in a multiple of 8(8th 16th, 24th etc.), 10 (10th, 20th, 30th etc.), or any other number so decided.

Random Sampling

The selection of samples, in random sampling, depends upon the chance as universe presents homogenous conditions throughout. There are two types of random sampling.

Simple Random Sampling

The procedure of sampling in which each unit of universe has equal chance of being included as the sample is known as simple random sampling. For example, in a survey on consumer behaviour each consumer has an equal chance for being selected as a sample.

Stratified Random Sampling

This type of sampling procedure is used when considerable heterogeneity is present in the distribution. The selection of samples in such a situation is based on the division of the universe of study into homogeneous subgroups or strata. Certain aspects of study present stratified character like social structure (having groups like general population, SC population, and ST population); economic structure (primary, secondary, tertiary sector etc.). Random samples are selected from each subgroup based on their relative significance in the universe.

Sample Size

  • There are two basic requirements for the sample to fulfil. A sample must be representative and adequate. The sample is said to be representative when it reflects the various patterns and sub classes of the universe of the study. Similarly, a sample is adequate if it provides very precise result to the investigator. It is important to note that larger is the sample size, greater is the accuracy.

  • Usually a small sample is sufficient if the phenomenon studied is fairly homogeneous which very rarely occurs. Normally, for a field survey sample size chosen is about 5 to 10 % of the total units of the universe. The sum total or aggregate from which the sample is taken, and the result is derived is known as the universe or population.

Processing of Data

The processing of data/information is an essential dimension of streamlining the facts and writing of a field report. A separate account of processing is given here.

Processing of Primary Data

The primary data collected from the field remains in the raw form of statements, digits, and qualitative terms. The raw data contains error, omissions, and inconsistencies. It requires corrections after careful scrutinizing the completed questionnaires. The following steps are involved in the processing of primary data.

Editing of Data

The editing of data can be done at two stages: field and post-field editing. The field editing is a review of reporting by the investigator for completing what has been written in an abbreviated form during interviewing the respondent. The post-field editing is carried out when field survey is completed, and all forms of schedule have been collected together. This type of editing requires review of all forms thoroughly.

The Coding of Data

  • To keep the response within limited alternatives, we need to assign some alphabetical or numerical symbols or both to the answers. The alternatives must be mutually exclusive i.e. defined in one concept or term only. This form of processing is known as coding. For example, in a question of educational qualifications alternative choices given are: Uneducated; Below Matriculation; Matriculation and above but below Graduate; Graduate and above; Technical Diploma; Technical Degree.

  • The alphabetical codes assigned to these alternatives could be A, B, C, D, E, and F. Similarly, numerical codes to these alternatives could be 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 respectively. It is necessary for efficient analysis. Though coding exercise is a part of the formulation of questionnaire yet responses to questions need to be coded and made final at the processing stage. This simplifies the transfer of data from questionnaires to the master chart. It is a two-dimensional chart in which observations are entered on one axis (X) and details of the responses on the other axis (Y). The calculations become easier and quicker if the details are coded and entered in the master chart or fed in the computers.

Organization of Data

The data information collected through different sources should be organized. The first task in this regard is to develop a master chart. For example, in a local area survey, we record individual households in rows and the details of population, function, facilities, and amenities etc. in columns. Thus, a large chart is prepared that contains, practically all relevant information/data. Finally, the total of rows and columns are cross-checked. The information arranged in an ascending order is known as the array of data. The set of information related to specific entity is called the field. The following illustration demonstrates the way data is organized.

Data Organization
Data Organization


























1 Scooter











1 Scooter











1 Car and 1 Scooter









1 Scooter











1 Scooter

Classification of Data

A huge volume of raw data collected through field survey needs to be grouped for similar details of individual responses. The process of organizing data into groups and classes on the basis of certain characteristics is known as the classification of data. Classification helps in making comparisons among the categories of observations. It can be either according to numerical characteristics or according to attributes. The numerical characteristics are classified on the basis of class intervals. For example, monthly income up to Rs.2000 may form its group and the respondents reporting income in the range may form its frequency. Similarly, further group can also be made like income group Rs.2000 to Rs.3000 and so on. The number of items entered against each class is known as the frequency of the class. Every class has a lower and an upper limit. The difference between the upper and lower limits is known as the range of the class. The class intervals are mostly kept equal. Sometimes when the range of the data is too large class intervals are not kept equal, instead they are based on the perceptible gaps in the array of the data. For example, settlements having less than 2000 population can be grouped as below 200 population 200-500 population, 500-1000 population and so on. In this group as class intervals are unequal. The data is also classified on the following bases.

  • Descriptive characteristics- examples include land holding, sex, caste and so on.

  • Time, situation, and area specific characteristics.

  • Nature of data as continuous or discrete.

Presentation of Data

The presentation of data could be tabular, statistical, and cartographic. In case of tabular form of presentation, data related to different variables should be classified and compared. Various statistical techniques are available to derive accurate and precise results. Since techniques have a large range coupled with the limitations of their own, selection of appropriate technique needs to be made for the purpose. The construction of graphs, charts, diagrams, and maps are the various forms of cartographic presentations. The data is transformed into cartographic system which is used for visual presentation. A brief account of tabular, statistical as well as cartographic presentation of data is discussed below.

Tabular Presentation

It is used for summarization of data in its micro form. It helps in the analysis of trends, relationship, and other characteristics of a given data. Simple tabulation is used to answer question related to one characteristic of the data whereas complex tabulation is used to present several interrelated characteristics. Complex tabulation results in two-way, three-way tables which give information about two or three inter-related characteristics of data. The following points may be kept in mind while constructing a table.

  • To make a table easily understandable without a text, a clear and concise title be given just above the frame of the table.

  • Each table should be numbered to facilitate easy reference.

  • Both columns and rows of the table should have a short and clear caption. They may also be numbered to facilitate the reference.

  • The units of measurement (production units)- kgs, quintals, tones, or areal units-hectare, kilometre) be indicated. If table relates to some specific time, it must be mentioned. The tables should be logical, clear, and as simple as possible.

  • The source of data must be indicated just below the body of the table.

  • The abbreviated words and explanatory foot notes if any should be placed beneath the table. However, it should be used to the minimum possible extent.

  • The sequence of data categories in a table may follow alphabetical, chronological, geographical order according to magnitude of the item presented.

Statistical Presentation of Data

The data collected through various sources needs to be processed statistically for precise explanations. Very often it becomes necessary to obtain a single representative value for the whole data set. The statistical measures that enable us to work out a single representative figure for the entire data distribution, is known as central tendency. Measures of central tendency help us to compare different distributions besides being representative for each distribution. These measures normally denote the central points of values, distance, and occurrence in a distribution. The commonly used measures of central tendency are:

Arithmetic Mean

It is most frequently used and is calculated by adding the sum of all individual values in a distribution and dividing the sum by the total number of individuals. For example, the production of rice per acre in five districts is 10, 8, 12, 9, and 6 quintals. The average production of rice for these districts is:

The arithmetic mean is expressed in the form of equation noted below:

Where, The mean value,


The arithmetic mean can be easily worked for small ungrouped data. However, when the number of observations is large and data is in the form of frequency distribution of groups, arithmetic mean will be worked out with the help of following equation.



Example: Calculate the arithmetic mean from the temperature data given in the following table.

Calculating Mean
Calculating Mean

Classes (Temperatures in OC)

No. of Days

Mid Values








































f= 360 Days

fm= 7760

Merits of the Arithmetic Mean

  • It is easy to understand the complete idea of the distribution and simple to workout.

  • It is the average of the values in a distribution. Hence, it has a balancing property in case of sample surveys.

  • It is widely used in case of normal distributions.

  • The arithmetic mean has certain limitations. It is affected by the extreme values especially when they are large. For example, income variations are very wide in case of Indian population.


Median is the middle most positional average. It is worked out by arranging data in an ascending or descending order. For example, the value of the median is worked out by adding 1 to the number of observation and the sum divided by two. It is expressed as:

For example, if we are interested in working out the median latitude and longitude for the country, we must arrange these distributions in a tabular form.

Latitudinal Extent of the Mainland of India (8o4’ N to 37o6’ N)

Latitudinal Extent of the Mainland of India
Latitudinal Extent of the Mainland of India






























The median or middle most latitude of India is 23°N which is close to the Tropic of cancer (23°30’N). Since mainland of India starts from 8o4’N which is a part of 9th latitude and extends up to 37°6’ N which covers the 37° latitude completely, hence the latitudinal coverage of India is approximately 29° latitudes. The median latitude is, therefore, 23°N i.e.

8° + 15° = 23°N

Or, 8o (Southern tip of India) + 15° (median value) = 23° (middle east latitude of India). Similarly, we can also workout the median value for the longitudinal extent of India. The Longitudinal Extent of India ranges between = 68°7’ E to 97°25’E.

The median or middle most longitude for the country is 83°E.

Median or Middle Most Longitude
Median or middle most longitude






























Longitudes are used to calculate local time, standard time of a nation, and international time which is linked to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Indian Standard Time is calculated keeping 82o30’E longitude as the base. The median longitude for the country is 83oE which is close to the standard meridian used for Indian Standard Time calculation.

Merits of Median

  • Being the middle most value, median remains unaffected by the extreme values in the distribution as in the case of arithmetic mean.

  • It is a partition value which divides the series into two nearly equal parts and remains the centre of gravity.

  • However, it cannot be worked out without putting data in an ascending or descending order. If data are large, it might be a time consuming and tedious job. The values of median will be erratic if one or two items are added or subtracted from the series.


It is one of the important measures of central tendency. The maximum concentration of items occurring in a distribution is considered to ascertain the mode. The value which occurs most frequently is identified as mode in case of ungrouped data. Similarly, for grouped data the mode can be calculated by identifying the class with the highest frequency. The mode denotes the centrality of the occurrence of an item in the distribution. The distribution of rural settlements in Uttar Pradesh is given below. Workout the mode for the data.

Distribution of Rural settlements in Uttar Pradesh 2001

Distribution of Rural Settlements
Distribution of Rural settlements

Size of Rural Settlements

Very Small (Below 500 Population)

Small (500-999)

Medium (1500-1999)

Large (2000-4999)

Very Large (5000 and above)

Proportion of Distribution






Solution: Arrange the data in a sequence (either from small to large or from large to small). Put up the frequency values against each. Now compare the frequencies. The distribution registering maximum frequency is identified as ‘mode’.

Merits of the Mode

  • It is the most typical value of a series. Mode can be located easily by the inspection and can be used by common people also.

  • The occurrence of a few extreme values does not affect the mode, since it is the most typical value of series.

  • It is, however, not a significant measure of central tendency unless the number of observations is large. Both in case of uniform as well as skewed distributions, mode ceases to be a measure of central tendency.

  • Percentiles: Percentile is a measure which divides a series into 100 equal parts. It helps to understand various classes or categories that constitute a distribution. It is expressed as:

Where, P is the percentile and N is the number of observations.

There are 99 percentiles, P1 P2 ……………. P99

L 1 = The lower limit of the jth percentile class, this is frequency of this class,

C = is the cumulative frequency of the class preceding the percentile class,

h = the magnitude of the jth percentile class, and

f = the frequency of the percentile class.

Distribution of Monthly Income Among Households of a Locality

Distribution of Monthly Income
Distribution of Monthly Income

Actual Number

Percentage Distribution

Economically weaker sections (Below Rs.500)



Lower Income Group (500-999)



Middle Income Group (1000-4999)



High Income Group (5000 and above)





100 = 0

Distribution of Per Capita Monthly Income of the Households of a Locality

Distribution of Per Capita Monthly Income
Distribution of Per Capita Monthly Income

Income group in Rs.

No. of Households Frequency

Cumulative Frequency

Below 500









5000 and above





Let us calculate 60th percentile as P60.

Now, P60 = 60 × 200 ÷ 100 = 120

The 120 the income lies in the group 500–999 so that,

L1 = 500, f = 41, C = 112, and h = 500

Ans. = Rs. 597.56

It means that 60 percent of the monthly incomes are below Rs. 597.56 and remaining 40 percent are above it.

Cartographic Presentation of Data

The primary data collected through the field survey may be presented cartographically. The representation of data in visual form refers either to time, space, or to both. The cartographic presentation refers to the display of data by constructing graphs, diagrams and maps. The set of data is transformed into some form of figure which is used for illustrations. These figures could be graphic, geometric or theme specific maps. A brief discussion on different form of cartographic presentation is given here.

Graphical Presentation of Data

The graph refers to the arrangement of horizontal as well as vertical lines in inch or centimetre’s divisions. These divisions are in an arithmetic sequence. A graph is used to locate the position of a given characteristic with respect to two variables represented by two axes of the graph. While ordinate or X axis represents independent variable, abscissa or Y axis represents the dependent variable. Due care is needed in the construction and interpretation of graphs. Theoretically, a phenomenon could be either increasing or decreasing or keeping constant trend of change across time. However, the observed facts may represent the change in a mixed fashion. For example, we can make use of simple line graph to represent the profile of Indian population during the past ten decades i.e. 1901 to 2001. Although we can see changes in the data, the presentation of the same on a line graph provides better comprehension.

Growth of Population in India (1901-2001)

(Population in million persons)

Growth of Population in India
Growth of Population in India

























Image of Growth Population

Image of Growth Population

Compound Graphs

These graphs are being used to represent two or more dependent quantities at the same time. Different quantities represented by curves are either superimposed on the top of each other or placed on the each other in a cumulative way. For example, compound graphs of male and female population or rural and urban population can be used to represent the two segments of population. Similarly, variables having three or four segments can also be represented through compound graph. For example, energy production (thermal, hydel, and nuclear), migration streams (rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-rural, and urban-urban) and religious composition of population (Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, etc.) represent various segments of the variable.

Sex Ratio of Population of India

(Population in million)

Sex Ratio India Population
Sex ratio India population





































Image of Sex Composition

Image of Sex Composition

Diagrammatic Presentations

Diagrams are both graphical as well as geometric in nature. The processed data is portrayed through different diagrams for visual presentations. It is important to make use of diagrams based on their relative merit of visual presentation. The diagrams mostly refer to time or space or both the characteristics related to one location. Some of the diagrams used for the presentation of primary data are discussed below:

Bar Diagram

The use of column or bar has become common in representing a comparative performance of various units and growth of an individual unit. The length of bar is kept proportional to the size of production or the volume of change. Thus, bar diagram is used to represent many elements at one point of time and one element across the time. The compound bar diagrams are used to represent the subclasses of an element. The block of a bar is proportionately subdivided to represent the sub classes in a compound bar diagram.

Pie Diagram

The pie diagram is also known as divided circle. It is used to represent the proportion of the sub-unit of whole. The different segments of a circle represent percentage contribution of various components of data. For drawing a pie diagram, we construct a circle of any diameter. The circle is then divided into desired number of segments. i.e. angle 360 represents 100 percent. Pie diagram is generally used to represent the general land use of village, composition of shops in a functional profile of urban areas, social composition of surveyed village, composition of total population etc.

Presentation of Data through Maps

Various types of maps can be constructed with the help of primary data. Maps related to various themes such as environment, trade, land use, production of community population, etc. can be prepared for presentation. A map is a proportional representation of some or whole part of the earth on a fiat surface or piece of paper. Thus, the outline map represents the direction, distance and shape of the area, while the technique of the representation of data on the maps explains distributional characteristics. The method of preparing dot map is given below here as an example.

Dot Maps

  • These maps are used to show the dispersal as well as concentration tendencies (characteristics of a distribution) of the phenomena. Dot maps are related to point specific pattern of distribution unlike isopleth maps which are concerned with joining places having the same or equal values of distribution or choropleth maps which are concerned with area specific distributions instead of location specific distributions.

  • These maps use data to represent location specific distribution. The size of the dot is worked out considering the capacity of space on the map and the value of distribution at one point of location. The dot is assigned specific value in quantitative terms. Once the value of a dot is determined the number of dots at each location can be worked out. Dots are plotted on the map based on location specific distribution of variable. Due care needs to be taken while putting dots on the map.

  • Transport lines, rivers and canals, mountain tops, and such other negative areas should be separated from placing dots. The final map clearly represents the concentration and dispersal of a distribution. The field data related to household population, agricultural production, shop-wise daily sales or consumer pattern, unit wise industrial production, or field wise crop can be better represented through dot maps.

Interpreting the Information

Interpretation of information/data is crucial for written communication. It is an art of expressing a given data/information in a written or oral form to provide a logical explanation for the given facts. The following points should be kept in mind while interpreting the information:

  • Clarity and explicitness of the interpretation.

  • Segregation of common and special features.

  • Focus should be clarified right in the beginning.

  • Organisation of the facts must be step by step.

  • Accuracy of facts need to be checked.

Interpretation of a Table

A table is a compact orderly arrangement of facts. It is summarized or grouped from a processed data. Interpretation of a table needs to start with the identification of minimum and maximum value i.e. ranges in the data. The difference between these two values explains the range to be comparatively smaller or larger. The smaller the range, lower the deviation and in the concentrated form is the distribution. Contrary to this, if range is larger, the interpretation will change as the distribution will be dispersed. The second step in the interpretation of a table relates to the analysis of various classes and their frequencies. The third step in the analysis of a table relates to the inferences derived. It should be brought out very clearly as what generalizations emerge from the table.

Interpretation of a Graph

Graphs are different types and their interpretation varies significantly one another. The interpretation should be done with great care. There could be broadly two types of graphical interpretations. The first type of interpretation may deal with the amount of change with reference to time or areal units or both. The second dimension of graphical interpretation is the trend. It is further divided into total trend and point specific trend.

Interpretation of a Diagram

Each diagram has its own merit of presentation. It should be interpreted with regard to variables shown. A diagram highlights different levels of variables viz high, medium, low, very low etc. Interpretation of each component should be made clearly to give an idea about the performance of a variable across time and places.

Interpretation of Maps

  • Interpretation of maps refer to area specific characteristics of a phenomenon. It could be with regard to time, intensity, and community. The distributional characteristics of a variable should be interpreted. It will bring out the distributions both in terms of volume and area covered. Logical explanation should be given to the factor responsible for such a distribution.

  • While interpreting the information certain points should be kept in mind. The points are clarity and explicitness, segregation of common and special features, focus, organization and accuracy of facts.

  • The interpretation of processed data differs from one medium to another. For example, the interpretation of a table is different from diagrams, graphs and maps.

Preparation of Field Report and Its Format

Field reports are the written account of the facts and data collected from the field, its generalizations and basic conclusions. These reports are being used for comprehensive and application-oriented learning. Implementation of various development schemes and plans are made depending on the conclusions derived, suggestions and recommendations made in the report. Since report forms the basis of decisions making, it needs to be comprehensive and capable of reflecting the ground truth. The field report should be prepared based on the following components:


The first step in writing a field report is its introduction. The introduction includes the statement of the problem of field survey and its objectives. Methodology of the field work and the general background of the area of field survey has to be planned. The selection of samples and variables, hypothesis, processing, and presenting the primary data from the part of mythology. The last part of the introduction is expected to discuss the scope and plan of the report.


The value of the report is adjusted on the basis of insight and labour put in its making of a scientific and logical project. Analysis of the report is sub-divided into chapter of convenient number. Sequence of these chapters, however, follows the system like

  • Structure on nature of the theme of investigation.

  • Trends and patterns (both temporal a well as spatial) related to the theme of investigation.

  • Correlation of associated factor influencing the problem under study.

  • Constraints and associated problems.

  • Conclusions and suggestions.

Each chapter contains logical and scientific analysis of the facts derived through the processing of data in the form of tabular and cartographic presentations besides investigators personal impressions gathered during the field work.

The Results and Recommendations

The third and the important part of the field reports is related to deriving results and the recommendations. The generalisations made in each chapter are put together to form specific conclusions. To make suggestions more meaningful, constraints and likely problems should be worked out. Having analysed the entire theme of survey both individually (at the level of variables) as well as collectively (at the level of groups), one is able to make final observation or to derive both broad as well as specific conclusions. The recommendation should be based on these results. Both basic as well as functional aspects of the problems should be covered by these recommendations. Before making recommendations, one is expected to assess the viability and feasibility of the same. The smaller and specific is the dimension of the problem, more workable and viable is the recommendation. Similarly, the feasibility aspect of recommendation deserves to be assessed in the light of available technological, financial, and social implications. The report must avoid vague and unclear recommendations. Thus, result and recommendations should touch upon finding solutions to problems faced and accelerating the pace of development.

Format of the Field Report

It is important to note that all field reports are special and unique in so many respects. However, there are certain formats which are common to all reports. On the basis of common characteristics, it may be summarized that a field report mainly consists of three parts.

The Prelims

It consists of Title Page, Preface, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Maps and Diagrams, and List of Appendices. Example:

Image of Prelims

Image of Prelims

Body of the Text

It includes from introduction to the conclusion and recommendations.

Chapter Scheme


  • Statements of the problem

  • Objectives of the field work

  • Methodology used

    • Universe of the study

    • Selection of samples

    • Hypotheses proposed

    • Methods of data processing

Scope and plan of the study

  • Nature or structure of the theme of Investigation.

  • Spatial and temporal trends of the problem of study. This chapter relates to understanding the area specific patterns and temporal trends.

  • Correlates the problem or investigations- It deals with the analysis of factors responsible for trends and patterns.

  • Constraints of theme of investigation- There are some basic and functional problems linked to each area. This chapter is devoted to study these problems.

  • Conclusions, suggestions and recommendation- This chapter summarises the findings, makes suggestions, and recommendations for the development.


It includes references, selected bibliography, appendices, glossary of terms etc.

In brief, it can be said that

The data collected from the field are very extensive and unprocessed. While surveying in the field some objects remain unsurveyed and data, therefore, becomes dissimilar. Hence, there is a need for processing the data properly. The different steps involved in processing data are editing, coding, organisation, and classification. Only then the data becomes in the presentable form. The presentation of data could be tabular, statistical, and cartographic forms. The tabular presentation could be simple or complex depending upon the variables used. Statistical presentation makes use of mean, median, and mode for getting central values. Percentiles are also used to explain the coverage of a phenomenon studied. Cartographic presentation of data is made in different ways. Such as graphs, charts, diagrams, maps etc. Two variables can easily be represented by a line graph. Bar diagram is used for comparing different units. Compound bar diagram issued for representation the sub-units of an element proportionately. Different types of maps are prepared with the help of primary data. The dot map is the most popular map. The dot map shows the distribution of an element. It also depicts the concentration and dispersion of the element. Isopleth map also depicts distribution of phenomenon. In this map, points of the same values are joined by curve lines. Distribution maps are also shown by shading methods. The following points are kept in mind while interpreting the information. Clarity and explicitness, segregation of common and special features, highlight the focus, organise the matter in small paragraphs and facts should be complete and accurate. Report is the most important component of the field work. It is a written document highlighting the conclusions drawn from the field work and data collected. The report should be extensive and related to ground realities. It should be written under the heads in a sequential order of introduction, analysis, results, and recommendations.

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