Secondary Research

Commonly known as desk research also, secondary research is the most common research method in use today. It is based on the findings of other peoples research and involves processing that collected data. Researchers may consult previous studies and findings such as reports, press articles and previous market research projects, which are relevant to their own topic so as to arrive at a conclusion. This information can be gathered from books, reports or the Internet.

Secondary data sources may be either qualitative (descriptive) or quantitative (numerical).  Qualitative data sources include internet, magazines, newspapers, books, journal articles, diaries, interview transcripts, encyclopedias, dictionaries, reviews, etc., and quantitative sources include surveys and statistics, which are available in the public records office or the national archives. Other types of secondary sources are reference materials, books, CDs, videotapes, and television shows. Most research papers are based on secondary sources as they build up on these previous research or studies.

 

SOURCES OF SECONDARY DATA

Official Statistics: These are collected by governments and their various agencies, bureaus, and departments. These statistics can be useful to researchers because they are easily obtainable and comprehensive source of information covers long time periods.

Technical Reports: These are accounts of work done on research projects. They provide research results to colleagues, research institutions, governments, and other interested researchers.

Scholarly Journals: These contain reports of original research or experiments written by experts in specific fields.

Literature Review Articles: These assemble and review the original research. Written by field experts, review articles discuss and list all the relevant publications from which the information is derived.

Reference Books: Reference books provide specific facts or a summary of a topic. Handbooks, manuals, encyclopedias, and dictionaries are included in this category.

The main advantage of secondary research compared to primary research is its relatively low expense and easy availability. Problems with using secondary data include the possibility of bias (biographies), poor validity (trying to make the data to fit to our research when it was collected for a different purpose), incomplete information (some sites offer free portions of a research and then charge expensive fees for the full reports), outdated information (an out-of-date market survey may be irrelevant to the current market scenario), and low quality (statistics, which might not have been verified). These can all return inaccurate results.

PRIMARY RESEARCH

Primary research is that kind of research that needs us to go out and collect data. This comprises surveys, interviews, observations, and ethnographic research. Primary research is an excellent skill to acquire as it helps in a variety of settings including business, personal, and academic. To have knowledge about conducting primary research is beneficial as it can greatly supplement the secondary sources research, such as journals, magazines, or books. A good researcher knows exactly how to use and integrate both primary and secondary sources in her writing.

What is Primary Research?

Basically, primary research can be understood as the research conducted by marketers to collect original data for their own requirements. This process involves the marketer, or someone working for the marketer, designing and carrying out a research plan. Notably, primary research is usually undertaken after the researcher gains some insight into the concerned issue by collecting secondary data.

Primary research, though not used as frequently as secondary research, represents an essential part of general marketing research. Many organizations, mostly large consumer products firms, preferably spend more on primary research rather than on secondary research. Marketing researchers use various types of instruments, ranging from basic methods that record participant responses to highly advanced electronic measurement in which research participants are connected to sophisticated equipments.

The primary research market includes marketers who conduct their own research, and a large group of companies that provide their services to marketers. These companies include:

  • Full-service market research firms, which develop and carryout the full research plan for their clients.
  • Partial-service market research firms that offer expertise addressing a specific part of the research plan, like developing methods to collect data, undertaking data analysis, or locating research participants.
  • Research tools suppliers firms, which provide tools for researchers, including data collection tool, data analysis software and report presentation products.

Advantages of Primary Research

  • Primary research is designed to collect information needed by the marketer, and report it in ways that benefit the marketer. The marketing organization, by conducting their own research, identify issues specific to their own situation. For example, the information collected with secondary research may not meet the marketer’s needs, but with primary research, no such problem exists since the marketer controls the research design.
  • Primary research not only enables the marketer to focus on specific issues, but also enables the marketer to exercise a higher level of control over the collection of information. Subsequently, the marketer decides on issues, such as size of project, location of research, and time limit for completing the project.
  • Primary data collections focus on issues specific to the researcher. Due to this fact the research funds are spent efficiently.
  • Information collected by the marketer with primary research is generally not shared and is thus kept hidden from competitors. This potentially offers an advantage to the company that undertook the primary research.

Disadvantages of Primary Research

  • In comparison to secondary research, primary data seem to be quite expensive since there is a great deal of involvement of marketer and the expense in preparing and conducting research can be high.
  • Primary data collection needs the development and implementation of a research plan. From deciding to undertake a research project to having results, all these often take much longer than obtaining a secondary data.
  • Primary research is not always feasible, as some research projects are unavailable to the marketer even though they potentially offer information, which could be quite valuable. For example, it would not be convenient for a company to interview every customer visiting their store on a certain day, as doing so would need hiring a large number of researchers, resulting in an unrealistic expense.