What is primary and secondary data?


Quick Answer

Primary data is original research that is obtained through first-hand investigation, while secondary data is research that is widely available and obtained from another party. Primary data includes information collected from interviews, experiments, surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and measurements. Secondary data can be found in publications, journals and newspapers.

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What is primary and secondary data?
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Full Answer

There are both pros and cons to both primary and secondary data. Primary data is tailored to the needs of the researcher. When conducting a study, researchers can ask the questions that best collect the data that help with their study through the use of surveys, interviews and direct observations. Primary data can be either quantitative, focused on numbers and measurements, or qualitative, as when attitudes or opinions are collected and studied. In marketing research, primary data gives the researcher a competitive edge. However, conducting this research is often costly and time-consuming.

Secondary data is usually immediately available to the public at little or no cost. It can also be used for extended lengths of time. For example, looking at a company's income rates over a 10-year period can provide insight into trends that may not be obtainable from primary data. The downside to secondary data is that it is generally focused on broader topics and may be out of date. Often the research question, the budget and the available resources determine whether researchers use primary data, secondary data or both.

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