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information (some sites offer free portions of a research and then charge expensive fees for the full reports), outdated information (an out-of-date market survey may be irrelevant to the current market scenario), and low quality (statistics, which might not have been verified).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.