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Secondary Data

Introduction

One of the two main categories of data is secondary data; the other type is primary data. Although these two categories of data are very helpful for research and statistics, we will focus only on secondary data in this article. It uses the information gathered from previous research to conduct new research by making use of it.

This article includes studying secondary data, its sources, examples, and collection methods.

What is Secondary Data?

Definition

The information that has previously been gathered from primary sources and made easily accessible for use in other researchers’ studies is referred to as secondary data. This kind of information has previously been gathered in the past.

When obtaining primary data is difficult or increasingly challenging, the researcher is supposed to rely on secondary data. Since secondary data has previously been edited and used by others, its validity, authenticity, and reliability are lower than those of primary data.

Secondary data are more flexible and easier to get than primary data, and they can be used to address a variety of issues. Because there are so many secondary data sources, they have begun to become more and more important in analytics and research. 

What are examples of Secondary Data?

Second-hand information is what secondary data are, in essence. These were not obtained from the original source as the main data. Thus, these are less reliable than primary data in general. 

Since secondary data are information that has already been gathered, compared to primary data, it is considered to be easier to find. Using these sources requires relatively little work and effort.

Categories of Secondary Data

Secondary data sources are divided into two categories, published sources and unpublished sources.

Published Sources

Published (printed) sources are typically where secondary data is collected. This is the most reliable source of secondary data. Data from published sources have a higher level of validity than unpublished sources.

Libraries and archives are good places to get the most published records. A wide range of books, journals, and magazines are available in libraries. This information is a source that can be used in your thesis, dissertation, or other research projects. Periodicals and journals offer current information, and libraries also have access to them.

Unpublished Sources

Unpublished sources are those that have not been made publicly or widely available and which were created by reputable scientific or licensed professionals and include maps, records, consultant reports, or other data. Private companies, academic institutions, research programs, and other groups keep these records up to date.

The table below shows some published and unpublished sources from which secondary data can be collected.

Published SourcesUnpublished Sources
Articles that have been published by municipal, national, and state governments

Census data, statistical summaries, and other publications produced by the various government agencies

Publications and official declarations from foreign governments

Publications and reports from trade associations, financial institutions, chambers of commerce, etc.

Journals, periodicals, and magazines publications from governmental agencies like the National Sample Survey Organization and the Central Statistical Organization Reports presented by economists, agencies, and other researchers.
Teachers, academics, and professionals perform the research.

The documents that private and commercial organizations preserve

Different departments and agencies of the federal and state governments, businesses, organizations, etc., maintain statistics.

Secondary Data Sources

The development of electronic media and the Internet has made secondary data sources more widely available. A few of these are:

Books, periodicals and Other Published Sources

Most libraries provide access to books, magazines, and other published materials, which are great places to find secondary data. The majority of the large libraries are currently working on digitizing the written works. The researchers can now easily access material in digital form. Access to several research journals is also available through libraries.

Reports and Publications from Government Sources

Data is also provided by government sources. There can be no doubt about the reliability and excellence of these data sources. As a result, the majority of researchers base their research on data from official sources.

Media Resources

Print and broadcast media can also provide some pertinent and reliable information. In addition to academic research, the print and electronic media routinely conduct studies on a variety of topics, including personal, professional, lifestyle, and lifestyle change.

Major magazines and countless other national and regional media outlets have a lot of information available. In addition to the daily newspapers, certain publications offer a wealth of information about current events.

The table below shows the description of some specific secondary data sources.

Books
The oldest method of gathering information is through books. Books can be found today on any subject you can imagine. Books can be helpful in producing a literature review because they can be a reliable source of information when carefully chosen.When conducting research, all you need to do is look for a book on the subject and choose from the collection of books that are available in that field.
Journals
Journals can provide up-to-date information since journals are frequently updated with new publications. Additionally, when it comes to research, journals are typically more explicit.
Newspapers
Newspapers frequently provide information that is primarily political, economic, and educational rather than scientific. 
Government Records
An important and reliable source of secondary data is government documents. These documents include, among others, census data, health records, and records from educational institutions.
Magazines
Magazines are printed materials that conduct their own surveys and interviews about a variety of topics, such as socioeconomic situations, criminal activity nationwide, etc.

Strengths of Secondary Data

The strengths of secondary data include the following:

Simple to access

Secondary data is accessible at any time and from any location. It can be found online or in publications or magazines. Accessing secondary data sources is relatively simple because of the Internet. You can get a ton of information today by simply using your mouse.

Nowadays, secondary data is typically used the most to evaluate academic work. Students who rely on books, websites, and teachers to get information and study for tests are some examples.

Minimal cost

Secondary data is economical because it can be obtained at low costs. For instance, internet access, newspapers, and magazines are all inexpensive and widely available; thus, users never face a lack of data.

Since most secondary sources can be accessed for free or for very minimal cost, it saves you money, time and effort. 

Time-saving

Less time is required since data is readily and immediately available. 

Finding a source of information can sometimes only take a few Google searches. As a result, obtaining the data source requires less time.

Secondary data collection is more straightforward and quicker than primary data collection for research. This enables researchers to expedite the analytical process and save time. Moreover, since collecting and using primary data, which can be labour-intensive on its own, is taken care of, researchers can remain concentrated on their study objectives.

Data collection is open to all.

Depending on the purpose, anyone can gather data, regardless of whether they have specific training in doing so. Anyone may essentially collect it. 

You can find it as the richest type of data from a wide range of sources and themes. To gather data, a variety of sources might be used.

Secondary sources contain more data than a lifetime of data analysis could possibly process. There is no such limitation when using secondary data. Data researchers can use books, magazines, the Internet, periodicals, and more. As a result, a variety of sources are available to gather data for its users’ study. These resources are easily available to users and are accessible.

Weaknesses of Secondary Data

The weaknesses of secondary data include the following:

Data quality is beyond your control.

In the hands of the researchers, there is no control over the quality of the secondary data. Since researchers have already gathered data based on their pertinent hypotheses, it may be affected by environmental changes or other factors, making it difficult to control the quality in a suitable way.

Secondary data might not be of high quality. Particularly if you obtain the data via the Internet, the information’s origins may be in doubt. You must assess the information’s validity by learning how it was gathered and processed.

Data may be biased

The secondary data is often biased in favor of the person who gathered it because it was collected by someone other than you. It can affect the information gathered by the person using the secondary data.

Since the researcher’s viewpoint informs the data collection, the researcher’s data is biased.

Data may be outdated.

Secondary data was gathered in the past; therefore, it could be out of date. As a result, it could occasionally be irrelevant in the present context, and the data may be insignificant.

Possibly it is not tailored to meet your needs.

Secondary data is not specific to the needs of the researcher because it was obtained in the past for a different reason. 

You can get a ton of information from secondary data sources, but quantity is not always a good indicator of relevance.

Because of this, the secondary data may not be dependable for your present requirements. The data in this instance is no longer relevant for the user to use in their research and is instead outdated.

The table below shows the comparison table of the strength and weaknesses of secondary data.

Strengths of Secondary DataWeaknesses of Secondary Data
Secondary data is accessible.Data quality Is beyond the control of the researchers.
Secondary data is economical.Secondary data is often biased.
Secondary data requires lesser time since data is readily and immediately available.Secondary could be outdated.
Depending on the purpose, anyone can gather data secondary data.Secondary data may not be specific to the needs of the researcher. 

Measures for Examining Secondary Data

Data evaluation is the initial step in secondary data analysis. Researchers can nevertheless exert some control over secondary data, despite the fact that, as was already indicated, comprehensive quality control is unattainable. 

In order to decide if secondary data are appropriate for the study at hand, the following factors must be taken into consideration.

Accessibility

Data analysis also heavily depends on the data’s format and accessibility. It must be determined whether or not the desired type of data is accessible. You must use primary data if it is not readily available.

Relevance

Not all reliable information is key information for certain analyses. To identify the relevance of the data, researchers must first clearly define their study objectives. Then, they must determine the type of information that each data source contains.

The units of measurement must be consistent. The concepts utilized must be the same, and the data cannot be outdated.

Reliability 

Researchers should look into the conditions around data collecting to the greatest extent possible. They should look into the reliability of the source and if it is from a reputable source. 

Up to date

The researchers must look into the most recent update of the data. Out-of-date data might be insignificant to the research requirements.

Accuracy

This has something to do with the approach and specifications applied,

the margin of error, and reliability of the source.

Secondary Data vs Primary Data: Comparison Chart

The table below shows the difference between primary data and secondary data:

Primary DataSecondary Data
Primary data implies the data gathered from first-hand sources. Secondary data refers to information that has already been obtained and is readily available from other sources.
Primary data is real-time data. Secondary data is collected in the past.
Primary data offers raw information.Secondary data has been processed and organized by other researchers.
Primary data is costly.Secondary data is economical.
Primary data can be collected through methods like interviews, observation, surveys and questionnaires.Secondary data can be collected through books, journals, newspapers, websites, etc.
Primary data offers accuracy, authenticity, and reliability.Secondary data is less accurate and reliable compared to primary data.
Primary data is also known as first-hand data.Secondary data is also known as second-hand data.
Primary data is time-consuming.Secondary data is quick and easy to gather compared to primary. 

Summary

The information that has previously been gathered from primary sources and made easily accessible for use in other researchers’ studies is referred to as secondary data. This kind of information has previously been gathered in the past.

The two categories of secondary data are published sources and unpublished sources.

Examples of published sources are articles, books, journals, magazines, publications from government agencies, etc.

Examples of unpublished sources are research performed by teachers and professionals, documents that private and commercial organizations preserve, etc.

These are the strengths of secondary data:

Secondary data is accessible.

Secondary data is economical.

Secondary data requires lesser time since data is readily and immediately available.

Depending on the purpose, anyone can gather data secondary data.

These are the weaknesses of secondary data:

Data quality Is beyond the control of the researchers.

Secondary data is often biased.

Secondary could be outdated.

Secondary data may not be specific to the needs of the researcher. 

The measures that researchers must take into account in evaluating secondary data are accuracy, accessibility, relevance, and reliability.

There are many applications for secondary data in statistics, industry, and research. Secondary data is chosen by researchers for a variety of reasons, including cost, accessibility, and even specific research requirements.

In summary, secondary data provides several benefits over primary data as well as some drawbacks that may negatively affect the research’s conclusion. Everything is dependent upon the circumstances, the researcher in question, and the type of research being done.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is meant by secondary data?

The information that has previously been gathered from primary sources and made easily accessible for use in other researchers’ studies is referred to as secondary data. This kind of information has previously been gathered in the past.

What are the categories of secondary data?

There are two categories of secondary data, published sources and unpublished sources.

What are examples of published sources?

Published sources include:

Articles that have been published by municipal, national, and state governments

Census data, statistical summaries, and other publications produced by the various government agencies

Publications and official declarations from foreign governments

Publications and reports from trade associations, financial institutions, chambers of commerce, etc.

Journals, periodicals, and magazines

Publications from governmental agencies like the National Sample Survey Organization and the Central Statistical Organization 

Reports presented by economists, agencies, and other researchers.

What are examples of unpublished sources?

Unpublished sources include: 

Teachers, academics, and professionals perform the research

The documents that private and commercial organizations preserve

Different departments and agencies of the federal and state governments, businesses, organizations, etc., maintain statistics.

What are the advantages of secondary data?

The advantages of secondary data include:

Secondary data is accessible.

Secondary data is economical.

Secondary data requires lesser time since data is readily and immediately available.

Depending on the purpose, anyone can gather data secondary data.

What are the disadvantages of secondary data?

The disadvantages of secondary data include:

Data quality Is beyond the control of the researchers.

Secondary data is often biased.

Secondary could be outdated.

Secondary data may not be specific to the needs of the researcher. 

What is the other term for secondary data?

Secondary data is also known as second-hand data.

What is the difference between data and data collection?

Data refers to information in its raw or unprocessed shape, while the process of gathering information from various sources is known as data collection. 

Which is more cost-effective, primary data or secondary data?

When compared to secondary data, primary data is relatively expensive.

What does the term “published sources” mean?

Published (printed) sources are typically where secondary data is collected. This is the most reliable source of secondary data. Data from published sources have a higher level of validity than unpublished sources.

What does the term “unpublished sources” mean?

Unpublished sources are those that have not been made publicly or widely available and which were created by reputable scientific or licensed professionals and include maps, records, consultant reports, or other data. Private companies, academic institutions, research programs, and other groups keep these records up to date.

What are the limitations of secondary data?

Secondary data is often biased, could be outdated, and may not be specific to the needs of the researcher. 

What are the examples of secondary data sources?

Secondary data can be collected from books, periodicals, reports and publications from government sources and media resources.

What are the measures that the researchers must take into account in evaluating and analyzing secondary data?

The measures that researchers must take into account in evaluating secondary data are accuracy, accessibility, relevance, and reliability.

What does secondary data mean in research?

Secondary data is research information that has already been gathered and is available to researchers.

What is the importance of secondary data?

There are many applications for secondary data in statistics, industry, and research. Secondary data is chosen by researchers for a variety of reasons, including cost, accessibility, and even specific research requirements.

Secondary data provides several benefits over primary data as well as some drawbacks that may negatively affect the research’s conclusion. Everything is dependent upon the circumstances, the researcher in question, and the type of research being done.

How do you find secondary data?

Books, commercial sources, journals, newspapers, websites, government documents, etc., are examples of secondary data sources. Compared to primary data, secondary data are thought to be easier to find. 

Libraries and archives are good places to get the most published records. A wide range of books, journals, and magazines are available in libraries. This information is a source that can be used in your thesis, dissertation, or other research projects. Periodicals and journals offer current information, and libraries also have access to them.

Secondary data is accessible at any time and from any location. It can be found online or in publications or magazines. Accessing secondary data sources is relatively simple because of the Internet. You can get a ton of information today by simply using your mouse.

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