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Difference between Primary and Secondary Data with Comparison Chart

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Difference between Primary and Secondary Data with Comparison Chart
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Data is a collection of figures and facts that are meant to be used for a particular research purpose. Once there is a data set, it can be measured and analysed for various research purposes like surveying and sampling. There are two types of data – primary and secondary. Research or experiment may require either one or both forms of data. The difference between types of data becomes important as some researches require a more direct approach for gathering information whereas others require validated data or data gathered previously.

Primary Data vs Secondary Data

Basis of comparison

Primary data

Secondary data

Accuracy

It is less accurate and might have to go through an examination.

This kind of data is more reliable and accurate as it has been pre-examined and published elsewhere.

Control

This data is more specific to the researcher’s requirements and is under direct control.

Lesser control over data supervision.

Relevancy

This data is more relevant to the user’s requirements.

As this data is not collected first hand, it may not be as relevant to the researcher’s requirements.

Ownership

It belongs to the original researcher.

Belongs to other researchers and sources.

Cost and time

This data is costlier as it may take different strategies to uncover the required information. It is very time-consuming.

The data is less costly as it is already available and substantiated.

Accessibility

As this is unique to research, it may not be easily accessible.

This data is easily accessible as it is already obtained by other researchers.

Error

As it is gathered first hand and not yet verified there might be errors.

There are fewer chances of errors as this data is verified already.

What is Primary Data?

Primary data is freshly obtained to solve the researcher’s problems. This data is extremely factual and is collected through different methods like questionnaire, interviews, focus groups, observations and scheduling. This data can be represented through graphs, charts, tables and diagrams. It is ideal for research that is time sensitive and requires updated information.

For example, before launching a product in the market a company may conduct several surveys and marketing campaigns to understand the user responses. This information is vital for making modifications to their product or service.

Method of Collecting Primary Data

The different methods of collecting primary data are:

  • Observation method – In this method, the researcher gathers data based on his own observation and assessment of the problem. It might require a lot of time and experimentation.
  • Questionnaire method – Here, the data is collected through a set of questions related to the problem. These questions are sent to a group of people who give answers.
  • Interview method – Here, the data is gathered from interviewing people either personally or through a telephonic conversation.
  • Focus group interview – A small group of people are interviewed to gather data on research specific questions.
  • Schedule method – Here, a set of questions are explained to the respondents by enumerators and the answers are collected by them.

Pros and Cons of Primary Data

  • Data is more specific to the researcher’s requirements and is under direct control for primary data whereas the control is less in secondary data.
  • Primary data is less accurate whereas secondary data is more accurate and reliable as it has been pre-examined.
  • Here, the data is more relevant to the user’s requirements whereas secondary data may not be so much relevant as it had been obtained in the past.
  • This data is authentic and belongs to the researcher. Secondary data belongs to other researchers and information sources.
  • This data is costlier as it may take different strategies to uncover the required information. It is very time-consuming. Secondary data is less costly as it is already available and authenticated.
  • This data may have errors, as it has not yet been verified. Secondary data has lesser errors as it is already verified.

What is Secondary Data?

Secondary data is available in books, publications, journals, records, newspapers, articles etc. Therefore, the data may not have been updated and is not considered for experiments that have time constraints. This kind of data is useful for large and complicated projects involving many people. Secondary data may also be used for verifying primary data that has been obtained.

For example, data gathered from governmental census reports, government databases, research papers, and journals are common sources of secondary data.

Method of Collecting Secondary Data

The different methods of collecting secondary data are:

  • Internal sources – These sources are financial reports, sales reports, organizational information, customer details, feedback from the dealer or distributor, etc.
  • External sources – These sources are government census reports, books, journals, periodicals, research thesis, magazines, and the internet.
  • Unpublished sources – These sources of data are not published anywhere and are obtained from databases of institutions, diaries, letters, biographies, etc.

Pros and Cons Secondary Data

  • This kind of data is more reliable and accurate as it has been pre-examined and published elsewhere. Primary data is less accurate as it is performed by a researcher, which is not verified yet.
  • As this data is not collected first hand, it may not be as relevant to the researcher’s needs. Primary data is gathered by the researcher personally and is more relevant to the problems at hand.
  • This data belongs to other researchers and sources whereas primary data belongs solely to the researcher.
  • There are fewer chances of errors as secondary data is verified already.
  • This data is accessible as it is already gathered by researchers whereas primary data is not easily accessible as it belongs to a particular researcher.
  • It is readily available and is less costly than primary data.

Key Differences between Secondary and Primary Data

  • Primary data solves problems of a particular research whereas secondary data solves the problems of multiple problems.
  • Primary data is time sensitive and has to be relevant. Secondary data may not be as time sensitive.
  • Primary data is not reliable as it is not authenticated. Secondary data is more reliable as it is verified and published in journals, books, articles, etc.
  • Primary data is not economical to gather and may take multiple methods to gather. Secondary has already been gathered and hence is economical.

Conclusion

After understanding the key differences between primary and secondary data we can conclude that both the types of data are important for performing research. As secondary data may not be relevant to current research, primary data is the usual choice for researchers.


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