In the first part of the data investigative process, one or more questions or issues begin the process of identifying the topic to be investigated. In thinking about how to investigate these, other questions and ideas can tend to arise. Refining and sorting these questions and ideas, along with considering how we are going to obtain data that is needed to investigate them, help our planning to take shape. A data investigation is planned through the interaction of the questions:
- what do we want to find out about?
- what data can we get?
- how do we get the data?
Planning a data investigation involves identifying its variables, its subjects (that is, on what or who are our observations going to be collected) and how to collect or access relevant and randomly representative data.