What methods should be used to collect data?
The information your guardian program collects will likely vary depending on the monitoring priorities and indicators you’ve selected. It could include some combination of the following types of data:
- Quantitative - such as the location and number of particular wildlife species or the number of observed commercial fishing boats.
- Qualitative - such as a detailed description of the state of a cultural site or a written record of an interview with a resource user.
- Scientific measurements - such as dissolved oxygen in water or temperature.
- Lab analysis - such as samples taken from soils, fish or seaweed.
A well-designed monitoring plan considers how you will use the data before you start collecting it.
Collecting data for data’s sake is a sure fire way to waste valuable resources or to lose support for your program. Focus your monitoring efforts on collecting data that can influence change, whether that means influencing your own resource management decisions or negotiating with external government agencies or industry (e.g. to inform referrals, management plans, or high level agreements).
You may want to look at established or best-practice scientific methods to collect data. Talk to university, government, or private sector professionals and researchers to find out what data has already been collected for your region or issue of concern and what methods were used. Evaluate this information to determine if using the same methodology is in your best interest. Using established methods could save you time and money, allow you to compare the data you collect with other data sets, or build broader buy-in to your findings.
For example, if you are collecting data in order to influence the provincial government regarding wildlife management, it is helpful if government accepts your monitoring approach and methodology.