What is Primary vs Secondary Data


You have chosen a very interesting research topic for your research and now you want to execute your study. Like every researcher, your main objective would be to obtain relevant and appropriate data for your research. However, when it is about the methods of data collection, primary and secondary data are two of the most frequently used data collection methods in a thesis. Both of these data collection methods embed different procedures and characteristics. Whether qualitative or quantitative research design, research is incomplete without implementation of primary or secondary sources. The following page is going to shed light on the insights of primary and secondary data collection methods

What is Primary Data?

The data that is accumulated directly from first-hand experiences is known as Primary data. This method is used by authors for obtaining data for a particular kind of research. This kind of data collection method is also regarded as a raw material since it comprises original data from first source. In this procedure, the approach of the researcher is tailored to specific motives. Using primary data collection can be a hectic choice but it assures guaranteed results in most cases. The most common types of primary data that are used by researchers in their thesis projects are as follows;

  • Interview (telephone, personal interview, e-mail)
  • Experiments
  • Self-administered surveys and questionnaires
  • Diary entries, letters, and other correspondence
  • Case studies
  • Field surveillance
  • Ethnographic research
  • Action research
  • Life histories
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Personal narratives, memoirs

Additionally, by making use of these sources it is obvious that a researcher needs a certain group or sample to obtain this kind of data from. Hence, the researcher selects a specific sample by making use of various types of sampling techniques and procedures.

Pros and Cons of Primary Data

Just like everything in this world possess some good and bad characteristics, the same is the case with primary data collection methods.

Pros of Primary Data Cons of Primary Data

Improved Accuracy
Since the data is directly accumulated from a certain sample, the data obtained from primary sources is much more accurate.

More Limitations
The data from primary sources possess certain limitations. It is restricted to a place, time and number of respondents etc.

A Greater Level of Control
The design and method of the research can easily be controlled by the researcher. Additionally, you will be blessed with a greater level of control over the accumulation of data in this method.

Not Always Possible
In some cases, the research area is just too vast. Hence, it is not possible to use this method.

Updated Information
The primary source is the best way to attain newest and updated data as it enables the researcher to accumulate data straight from the ground in actual time.

Researching from the beginning to the end is an extremely time-consuming job. However, it can be even more time consuming when primary sources are used.

Owner Of The Data
The data accumulated by the author of the study is their own and is normally not shared with others. Hence, the data stays confidential from different kinds of potential competitors.

More Costly
Utilising a primary source of data collection could be very expensive because the team has to function from the foundation. It requires to follow the procedure of entire research, process and organizing materials etc.

What is Secondary Data?

The information that has already been gathered previously for some other motive but has some significance to research needs of the current research is called secondary data. Additionally, the information is accumulated by somebody else instead of the author of the study himself. This method is also known as second-hand information. Secondary sources are utilised for the first time. Hence, it is called secondary. Valuable readings and analysis grounded on primary sources are provided by secondary sources. Secondary sources elucidate primary sources in detail and often make use of them for supporting particular research or perspective. Common kinds of secondary sources that are used by researchers in their thesis projects are as follows;

  • Previous researches
  • Financial sources Letters
  • Diaries
  • Research analysis
  • Web information
  • Historical data
  • Encyclopaedias
  • Monographs
  • Journal articles
  • Works of criticism and interpretation
  • Biography
  • Dissertations
  • Official statistics
  • Mass media products
  • Government reports
  • Google Analytics.

Pros and Cons of Secondary Data

Pros of Secondary Data Cons of Secondary Data

The Data Can Be Collected by Anyone
This method can be used by individuals that are not acquainted with the various kinds of Qualitative and quantitative techniques. Essentially, secondary data can be gathered by anyone.

Out-Dated Data
Since secondary sources are gathered in the past which means they might be outdated. This is a very crucial issue in many different situations.

Low Cost or Free
Obtaining data that is also free of cost? Yes! Secondary data allows its users to obtain data at very low costs or free. It helps saving up not only the efforts but also money.

No control over the quality of data
Since secondary data is obtained from previous researches and journals, the researcher has no control over the quality of the information

Easy to Access
The sources of secondary data are very hassle-free to access. In recent times, there is a lot of data available just within a click of a mouse

Since the data from secondary sources are gathered by someone else,therefore the information is Biased and is favourable for the previous researcher or the individual who collected it.

The secondary research can be conducted in no time. Most of the secondary sources are a matter of some internet searches to look for a reliable source for extraction of data.

Difference between Primary Data and Secondary Data


Checklist of Primary and Secondary Sources

  • Secondary data should always be gathered from reliable and authentic source.
  • Primary Sources require more money and time
  • Consent is mandatory for participants involved in primary sources.
  • Secondary Sources are quick and easy
  • Ethical considerations play a vital role in both of the sources.

Dos and Don’ts of Primary and Secondary Sources


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