Sources Of Secondary Data
What are the various Sources Of Secondary Data? Explain with reference an example of a research area (selected by you).
What is secondary data?
Secondary data is data that has already been collected through primary sources and made easily available to researchers for use in their research. This is a type of data that has already been collected in the past.
One researcher may have collected data for a particular project, then made it available for use by another researcher. Data can also be collected for general use without any specific research purpose, as in the case of the National Census.
Data classified as secondary to specific research may be considered primary for other research. This is the case when data is being reused, making it primary data for the first research and secondary data for the second research for which it is being used.
Secondary data sources
Secondary data sources include books, personal sources, magazines, newspapers, websites, government records, etc. Secondary data is considered more readily available than primary data. Using these resources requires very little research and manpower.
With the advent of electronic media and the Internet, secondary data sources have become more accessible. Some of these sources are noted below.
Books are one of the traditional ways of collecting data. Today, books are available for all the topics you can think of. When doing research, all you have to do is find a book on the topic you are researching, then choose from a collection of books available in the area. Books, when carefully selected, are an authoritative source of authoritative data and can be useful in preparing literary reviews.
There are a variety of published resources available for different research topics. The authenticity of the data generated from these sources largely depends on the author and the publishing company.
Published sources can be print or electronic as the case may be. Depending on the decision of the author and the publishing company, they can be paid or free.
Unpublished personal sources
It may not be readily available and easily accessible compared to published sources. They only become accessible if the researcher shares with another researcher who is not allowed to share with a third party.
For example, an organization’s product management team may need data on customer feedback to gauge what customers think of their product and improvement suggestions. They will need to collect data from the Customer Service Department, which collects data primarily to improve customer service.
These days when it comes to data collection, diaries are slowly becoming more important than books. This is because journals are updated from time to time with new publications, so history information is provided.
Also, journals are usually more specific when it comes to research. For example, we might have a journal on “Secondary Data Collection for Quantitative Data” while a book would have only one title, “Secondary Data Collection”.
In most cases, the information passed through the newspaper is usually very reliable. Therefore, make it one of the most authoritative sources of secondary data collection.
The kind of data that is usually shared in newspapers is usually more political, economic, and educational than scientific. Therefore, newspapers cannot be the best source of scientific data.
Most of the information shared on websites is not regulated and therefore cannot be trusted compared to other sources. However, there are some regulated websites that only share authentic data and researchers can rely on them.
Most of these websites are usually government websites or private organizations that are paid, data collectors.
Blogs are one of the most common online sources of data and may be less authoritative than websites. These days, virtually everyone owns a blog, and many people use these blogs to drive traffic to their website or to make money through paid advertising.
Therefore, they cannot always be trusted. For example, a blogger may write good things about a product because he was paid to do so by the manufacturer, even though these things are not true.
These are personal records and are seldom used by researchers to collect data. Also, diaries are usually personal, except for the days when people now share public diaries containing specific events in their lives.
A typical example is Anne Frank’s diary, which contained accurate records of the Nazi wars.
Official records are a very important and authoritative source of secondary data. They contain useful information in marketing, management, humanities and social science research.
Some of these records include; Census data, health records, educational institution records, etc. They are usually collected to help with proper planning, fundraising, and project priorities.
Podcasts are slowly gaining ground these days, and many listen to them as an alternative to radio. They are more or less like online radio stations and are growing in popularity.
Information is usually shared during podcasts, and listeners can use it as a source of data.
Some other sources of data collection include:
Public Sector Records
Secondary Research: Definition
Secondary research or desk research is a research method that involves using already existing data. Existing data is summarized and collated to increase the overall effectiveness of the research.
Secondary research includes research material published in research reports and similar documents. These documents can be made available by public libraries, websites, data obtained from already filled-in surveys, etc. Some government and non-government agencies also store data, that can be used for research purposes and can be retrieved from them.
Secondary research is much more cost-effective than primary research, as it makes use of already existing data, unlike primary research where data is collected first hand by organizations or businesses or they can employ a third party to collect data on their behalf.
Secondary Research Methods with Examples
Secondary research is cost-effective and that’s one of the reasons that makes it a popular choice among a lot of businesses and organizations. Not every organization is able to pay huge sums of money to conduct research and gather data. So, rightly secondary research is also termed as “desk research”, as data can be retrieved from sitting behind a desk.
Following are popularly used secondary research methods and examples:
- Data available on the internet: One of the most popular ways of collecting secondary data is using the internet. Data is readily available on the internet and can be downloaded at the click of a button. This data is practically free of cost or one may have to pay a negligible amount to download the already existing data. Websites have a lot of information that businesses or organizations can use to suit their research needs. However, organizations need to consider only authentic and trusted websites to collect information.
- Government and non-government agencies: Data for secondary research can also be collected from some government and non-government agencies. For example, US Government Printing Office, US Census Bureau, and Small Business Development Centers have valuable and relevant data that businesses or organizations can use. There is a certain cost applicable to download or use data available with these agencies. Data obtained from these agencies are authentic and trustworthy.
- Public libraries: Public libraries are another good source to search for data for this research. Public libraries have copies of important research that was conducted earlier. They are a storehouse of important information and documents from which information can be extracted. The services provided in these public libraries vary from one library to another. More often, libraries have a huge collection of government publications with market statistics, a large collection of business directories, and newsletters.
- Educational Institutions: The importance of collecting data from educational institutions for the secondary research is often overlooked. However, more research is conducted in colleges and universities than in any other business sector. The data that is collected by universities is mainly for primary research. However, businesses or organizations can approach educational institutions and request data from them.
- Commercial information sources: Local newspapers, journals, magazines, radio, and TV stations are great sources to obtain data for secondary research. These commercial information sources have first-hand information on economic developments, political agendas, market research, demographic segmentation, and similar subjects. Businesses or organizations can request to obtain data that is most relevant to their study. Businesses not only have the opportunity to identify their prospective clients but can also know about the avenues to promote their products or services through these sources as they have a wider reach.
Primary Research Secondary Research
Research is conducted first hand to obtain data. The researcher “owns” the data collected. Research is based on data collected from previous research.
Primary research is based on raw data. Secondary research is based on tried and tested data that is previously analyzed and filtered.
The data collected fits the needs of a researcher, it is customized. Data is collected based on the absolute needs of organizations or businesses. Data may or may not be according to the requirement of a researcher.
The researcher is deeply involved in research to collect data in primary research. As opposed to primary research, secondary research is fast and easy. It aims at gaining a broader understanding of the subject matter.
Primary research is an expensive process and consumes a lot of time to collect and analyze data. Secondary research is a quick process as data is already available. The researcher should know where to explore to get the most appropriate data.
Here are the steps involved in conducting secondary research:
- Identify the topic of research: Before beginning secondary research, identify the topic that needs research. Once that’s done, list down the research attributes and their purpose.
- Identify research sources: Next, narrow down on the information sources that will provide the most relevant data and information applicable to your research.
- Collect existing data: Once the data collection sources are narrowed down, check for any previous data that is available which is closely related to the topic. Data related to research can be obtained from various sources like newspapers, public libraries, government, and non-government agencies, etc.
- Combine and compare: Once data is collected, combine and compare the data for any duplication and assemble data into a usable format. Make sure to collect data from authentic sources. Incorrect data can hamper research severely.
- Analyze data: Analyze data that is collected and identify if all questions are answered. If not, repeat the process if there is a need to dwell further into actionable insights.
Advantages of Secondary Research
- Most information in this research is readily available. There are many sources from which relevant data can be collected and used, unlike primary research, where data needs to collect from scratch.
- This is a less expensive and less time-consuming process as the data required is easily available and doesn’t cost much if extracted from authentic sources. A minimum expenditure is associated to obtain data.
- The data that is collected through secondary research, gives organizations or businesses an idea about the effectiveness of primary research. Hence, organizations or businesses can form a hypothesis and evaluate the cost of conducting primary research.
- Secondary research is quicker to conduct because of the availability of data. It can be completed within a few weeks depending on the objective of businesses or the scale of data needed.
Disadvantages of Secondary Research
- Although data is readily available, credibility evaluation must be performed to understand the authenticity of the information available.
- Not all secondary data resources offer the latest reports and statistics. Even when the data is accurate, it may not be updated enough to accommodate recent timelines.
- Secondary research derives its conclusion from collective primary research data. The success of your research will depend, to a greater extent, on the quality of research already conducted by primary research.