General notions about research budgets have a tendency to single out data collection as the most costly activity. Data collection requires substantial resources but perhaps less of the budget than clients/students will expect. Research assistants must be paid, training and travel must be provided, and other expenses are incurred; but this phase of the project often takes not more than
one third of the total research budget. The geographic scope and the number of observations required do affect the cost but much of the cost, is relatively independent of the size of the data gathering efforts. Thus, a guide might be that:
- Project planning,
- Data gathering, and
- Analysis, interpretation and reporting each share about equally in the budget. Without budgetary approval, many research efforts are terminated for lack of resources. A budget may require significant development and documentation as in grant and contract research, or it may require less attention as in a student’s project or investigations funded out of the researcher’s own resources.
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