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Difference between Primary Data and Secondary Data

22 Apr 2019 1:25 pm || 0

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 analyzed 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 essential as some analyses require a more direct approach for gathering information, whereas others require validated data or data collected previously.

Primary and Secondary Data

Primary data is freshly obtained to solve the researcher’s problems whereas secondary 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. Primary data is less accurate and might have to go through an examination. Secondary data is more reliable and accurate as it has been pre-examined and published elsewhere.

Basis of comparison Primary data Secondary data
Accuracy It is less accurate and might have to go through an examination. Secondary 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 supervision. 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. It 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 other researchers already obtain it.
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 hugely factual and is collected through different methods like questionnaires, 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 user responses. This information is vital for making modifications to their product or service.

Method of Collecting Primary Data

The different ways of collecting primary data are:

  • Observation method – In this method, the researcher gathers data based on his 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 they collect the answers.

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 power 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 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 expensive 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 confirmed.

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 familiar sources of secondary data.

Method of Collecting Secondary Data

The different ways 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 correct 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 researchers already gather it, whereas primary data is not readily available 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 particular research, whereas secondary data solves the issues of multiple issues.
  • 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 collected and hence is economical.

Conclusion

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