Primary & Secondary data

Methodology & How Science Works

DESCRIBE Primary Data


·         Original data which has been collected by those who witnessed an event first-hand or who collected the data themselves for a specific purpose

·         It presents original thinking or new information

·         Examples of primary data include results from questionnaires or experiments, which can either be quantitative or qualitative.

·         The data can be sets of statistics which is input into a computer programme to construct frequency distributions or other descriptive statistics

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STRENGTHS of Primary Data


·         It is a reliable source because the researcher can replicate the procedures to check the results because they know the procedures and how the data was collected and analysed

·         The data will likely be more up-to-date. Using data which was gathered years previously is less likely to provide reliable answers to the questions which the data needs to address

·         Because primary data is taken directly from the population, it is one of the best types of data to collect for research methods like surveys. 

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WEAKNESSES of Primary Data


·         Researchers may be subjective in which kind of data they look for, e.g data which fits the hypothesis they are trying to test

·         Because the data has been gathered from scratch, it involves finding a large enough sample to make the results credible and generalizable and gain a large volume of data. This makes it more costly and time consuming than collecting secondary data

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DESCRIBE Secondary Data


·         This is second hand analysis of pre-existing data. It may be analysed in a different way or be used to answer a different question from that which is addressed in the original research

·         Secondary data analysis uses data which was collected by someone else in order to further a study which they are interested in completing

·         It usually interprets, analyses, evaluates, explains or comments on a primary source or event. After statistical operations have been performed on primary data, the results become known as secondary data

·         In some cases, secondary data is gathered before primary data in order to find out what is already known about a subject before embarking on a new investigation 

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STRENGTHS of Secondary Data

·         Gathering secondary data saves time and expense which would otherwise be spent collecting data

·         It can provide a larger database than an individual researcher would hope to collect

·         In some cases, secondary data is often the only resource and therefore the only way to examine large scale trends of the past, e.g historical documents 

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WEAKNESSES of Secondary Data


·         The researcher cannot personally check the data so its reliability may be questioned

·         The researcher may have no knowledge of how the data was collected, therefore they do not know anything about its accuracy or bounds of error

·         The data may be out-of-date and therefore not suitable for current research 

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Simple and effective flash cards, many thanks.

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