Data Collection - Primary and Secondary Data

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Primary Data

Primary Data: Unprocessed information collected first-hand

Examples of Primary Data:

  • Questionnaires and surveys (raw)
  • Observing land uses, collecting house prices
  • Data tables, tally sheets
  • Photographs / Sketches


  • Original
  • Method of collection is known and therefore trustworthy
  • Owned by the investigator - therefore no possible copyright issues
  • The data can be focused on a specific investigation


  • May be inaccurate or unreliable
  • Often incomparable to other similar data sets
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Secondary Data

Secondary Data: Information derived from documentary sources

Examples of Secondary Data:

  • Satellite imagery
  • Historical/Geological/OS/GOAD maps
  • Website cencus data
  • Newspaper articles


  • May give extra relevant details unattainable through primary data
  • Can be more reliable for larger data sets
  • Can provide data collected historically


  • Information may be out-dated
  • If being used in an investigation, the source is needed for referencing purposes
  • The information could be inaccurate or unreliable and it could contain bias
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