What it is: Secondary research, or secondary research (secondary research) is a type of research using data sources from external parties, not original data sources. In other words, you are not first-hand so have no control over the accuracy of the data. For example, you do not know whether the data is representative or not.
Secondary research is different from primary research. For the latter, you take it from the original source. For consumer research, for example, you might survey or interview consumers. We call the collected data as primary data. You have control over the quality of the data because you develop the data collection methodology, including sampling.
There are many examples of secondary research sources. You can take from company reports, research institute reports, government agency publications, news articles, and so on.
Secondary research is a valuable step. You can save money and time by not having to fetch data directly. You may use all secondary data if they answer your hypothesis. Or, you may collect some of the data you need and take it directly for the rest of the data. That of course saves more money than having to fetch all the data from the original source.
Secondary research sources
There are many examples of data sources for secondary research. It varies, depending on the purpose of the study. For example, data sources can come from:
Textbooks or academic journals . They are usually data poor more qualitative information. They are usually useful in developing hypotheses as well as research methodologies. For example, to research buying behavior, you may have several alternative variables but do not know which one is significant. Well, textbooks and academic journals can help you in this case.
Government publications. The Central Statistics Agency is one example. You can find a variety of valuable data there, including demographic, geographic, economic and other data.
Trade associations (business associations). They are associations for domestic companies as well as companies from various countries. For international associations, the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA)is an example. Usually, they provide regular reports on the state of the market in which their members operate.
media . Business newspapers and magazines are valuable sources for collecting data. They may be printed or digital. Usually, they present some data to support the articles they write. Some may be free, while for others, you may have to subscribe. Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times are prominent examples.
Company report . There are many reporting sources you can use. It may be annual reports, company financial statements, public expose materials, press releases and prospectus.
Secondary research advantages
The advantages of secondary research are:
Easy, cheap and fast . You do not have to be involved in developing complicated data collection methods. You also don’t have to run surveys or interviews to collect data. You just sit at the table and look it up on the internet.
More varied . You can collect data from various sources. In addition, you can compare the various data and choose the one that supports your argument.
Great starting point. It is useful to help plan primary research. For example, you can collect some secondary data to answer some of your hypotheses and collect other data through primary research. In other cases, for consumer research, you may need secondary data on demographics and geography to determine a representative sample.
Disadvantages of secondary research
The main disadvantages of secondary research are:
Doubtful . You don’t know how the data is retrieved, whether they are accurate or not. For example, the data provider may use a sample that is not representative so it is biased if you use it to draw conclusions about the population.
Expired . More time lag between data collection and data publication. Thus, the data may no longer be relevant to current conditions. Or, the data provider doesn’t update it regularly, so, for some years, the data isn’t available.
Less relevant. Secondary data is to meet the needs of the provider, not for you. Thus, they may be less relevant to answer your research hypothesis.