• What data sources will you use?

    You must be as specific as possible, so that people will know exactly what data is required.

    Consider the following questions when identifying your data sources.

    • Is the data from an internal or external source?
      Internal data is data obtained from sources such as the Data Warehouse or our community perceptions surveys. External data is data obtained from sources outside of the ATO, such as the ABS.
    • Are there any issues about ownership of the data that will affect your ability to acquire it?
      For example, data from state-owned property databases may require special permission before you can access it - you must allow sufficient lead time for that permission to be obtained.
    • Are there any issues with regard to the availability of the data that would affect its usability?
      For example, there is a significant lag time between the collection and subsequent availability of ABS census data that restrict its usefulness as a benchmark.
    • When and how often do you need to collect the data?

    You need to obtain data at regular intervals so that progress can be tracked over time.

    • Can the data be replicated?
      The data may need to be replicated for various reasons, including:
      • the need to provide the same information at specific intervals for time-based analysis
      • quality assurance processes to independently verify your results.

    There is often a cost associated with the collection of data. Potential costs to us can range from payments to an external organisation, to the opportunity cost of diverting internal resources to the task of collecting the data. Potential costs to the community include an additional burden on the time and resources of respondents.

    Before making a final decision on the data source, consider the following.

    • Are there any existing data sources that will suit your needs?
      Collecting new data is generally more expensive and time consuming than collecting existing data. There may be existing data sources, such as previous evaluation reports, other agency data, or other internal and external data that will suit your needs.
    • There is a range of existing surveys and studies that may also suit your purpose; but you must understand the purpose of the original study and any limitations it might have in relation to your particular indicator.
    • You may be able to influence the questions that are included in a survey when it is being set up - this can reduce the costs involved with running a separate study.
      Our Corporate Research Centre can provide advice in relation to surveys and other research.
    • Is the data in a form that is able to be analysed for your particular purpose?
      Information which is collected at source (primary data) for the particular purpose of meeting the evaluation objective is more reliable than information derived from a pre-existing, data source. This is because the primary data has been collected with the particular purpose in mind.
    • Secondary data has usually been collected, summarised or interpreted for a different purpose and may not be entirely relevant when used as a substitute for primary data. This may weaken the reliability of your indicator.

    Before you decide to use a secondary data source, you must understand:

    • the purpose for which the data was originally collected
    • how the data was collected
    • the currency of the data
    • whether the data is representative of your population of interest.

    Find out more

    For more information about the major methods and sources used for collecting data for evaluations, see Appendix 1

    End of find out more
      Last modified: 13 Jan 2015QC 25789