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What is Secondary Research? | Definition, Types, & Examples

Published on January 20, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on January 12, 2024.

Secondary research is a research method that uses data that was collected by someone else. In other words, whenever you conduct research using data that already exists, you are conducting secondary research. On the other hand, any type of research that you undertake yourself is called primary research .

Secondary research can be qualitative or quantitative in nature. It often uses data gathered from published peer-reviewed papers, meta-analyses, or government or private sector databases and datasets.

Table of contents

When to use secondary research, types of secondary research, examples of secondary research, advantages and disadvantages of secondary research, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions.

Secondary research is a very common research method, used in lieu of collecting your own primary data. It is often used in research designs or as a way to start your research process if you plan to conduct primary research later on.

Since it is often inexpensive or free to access, secondary research is a low-stakes way to determine if further primary research is needed, as gaps in secondary research are a strong indication that primary research is necessary. For this reason, while secondary research can theoretically be exploratory or explanatory in nature, it is usually explanatory: aiming to explain the causes and consequences of a well-defined problem.

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Secondary research can take many forms, but the most common types are:

Statistical analysis

Literature reviews, case studies, content analysis.

There is ample data available online from a variety of sources, often in the form of datasets. These datasets are often open-source or downloadable at a low cost, and are ideal for conducting statistical analyses such as hypothesis testing or regression analysis .

Credible sources for existing data include:

  • The government
  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Businesses or consultancies
  • Libraries or archives
  • Newspapers, academic journals, or magazines

A literature review is a survey of preexisting scholarly sources on your topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant themes, debates, and gaps in the research you analyze. You can later apply these to your own work, or use them as a jumping-off point to conduct primary research of your own.

Structured much like a regular academic paper (with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion), a literature review is a great way to evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject. It is usually qualitative in nature and can focus on  a person, group, place, event, organization, or phenomenon. A case study is a great way to utilize existing research to gain concrete, contextual, and in-depth knowledge about your real-world subject.

You can choose to focus on just one complex case, exploring a single subject in great detail, or examine multiple cases if you’d prefer to compare different aspects of your topic. Preexisting interviews , observational studies , or other sources of primary data make for great case studies.

Content analysis is a research method that studies patterns in recorded communication by utilizing existing texts. It can be either quantitative or qualitative in nature, depending on whether you choose to analyze countable or measurable patterns, or more interpretive ones. Content analysis is popular in communication studies, but it is also widely used in historical analysis, anthropology, and psychology to make more semantic qualitative inferences.

Primary Research and Secondary Research

Secondary research is a broad research approach that can be pursued any way you’d like. Here are a few examples of different ways you can use secondary research to explore your research topic .

Secondary research is a very common research approach, but has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of secondary research

Advantages include:

  • Secondary data is very easy to source and readily available .
  • It is also often free or accessible through your educational institution’s library or network, making it much cheaper to conduct than primary research .
  • As you are relying on research that already exists, conducting secondary research is much less time consuming than primary research. Since your timeline is so much shorter, your research can be ready to publish sooner.
  • Using data from others allows you to show reproducibility and replicability , bolstering prior research and situating your own work within your field.

Disadvantages of secondary research

Disadvantages include:

  • Ease of access does not signify credibility . It’s important to be aware that secondary research is not always reliable , and can often be out of date. It’s critical to analyze any data you’re thinking of using prior to getting started, using a method like the CRAAP test .
  • Secondary research often relies on primary research already conducted. If this original research is biased in any way, those research biases could creep into the secondary results.

Many researchers using the same secondary research to form similar conclusions can also take away from the uniqueness and reliability of your research. Many datasets become “kitchen-sink” models, where too many variables are added in an attempt to draw increasingly niche conclusions from overused data . Data cleansing may be necessary to test the quality of the research.

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If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Normal distribution
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

A systematic review is secondary research because it uses existing research. You don’t collect new data yourself.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

George, T. (2024, January 12). What is Secondary Research? | Definition, Types, & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/secondary-research/
Largan, C., & Morris, T. M. (2019). Qualitative Secondary Research: A Step-By-Step Guide (1st ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd.
Peloquin, D., DiMaio, M., Bierer, B., & Barnes, M. (2020). Disruptive and avoidable: GDPR challenges to secondary research uses of data. European Journal of Human Genetics , 28 (6), 697–705. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41431-020-0596-x

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Secondary Research: Definition, Methods, Sources, Examples, and More

Two images representing secondary research: a report with charts and data, and book shelves filled with books.

Table of Contents

What is Secondary Research? Secondary Research Meaning

Secondary research involves the analysis and synthesis of existing data and information that has been previously collected and published by others. This method contrasts with primary research , which entails the direct collection of original data from sources like surveys, interviews, and ethnographic studies.

The essence of secondary research lies in its efficiency and accessibility. Researchers who leverage secondary sources, including books, scholarly articles, government reports, and market analyses, gather valuable insights without the need for time-consuming and costly data collection efforts. This approach is particularly vital in marketing research, where understanding broad market trends and consumer behaviors is essential, yet often constrained by budgets and timelines. Secondary research serves as a fundamental step in the research process, providing a solid foundation upon which additional, targeted research can be built.

Secondary research enables researchers to quickly grasp the landscape of existing knowledge, identify gaps in the literature, and refine their research questions or business strategies accordingly. In marketing research, for instance, secondary research aids in understanding competitive landscapes, identifying market trends, and benchmarking against industry standards, thereby guiding strategic decision-making.

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When to Use Secondary Research

Choosing between secondary and primary research methods depends significantly on the objectives of your study or project. Secondary research is particularly beneficial in the initial stages of research planning and strategy, offering a broad understanding of the topic at hand and helping to pinpoint areas that may require more in-depth investigation through primary methods.

In academic contexts, secondary research is often used to build a theoretical foundation for a study, allowing researchers to position their work within the existing body of knowledge. Professionally, it serves as a cost-effective way to inform business strategies, market analyses, and policy development, providing insights into industry trends, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes.

Combining secondary research with primary research methods enhances the comprehensiveness and validity of research findings. For example, secondary research might reveal general trends in consumer behavior, while subsequent primary research could delve into specific consumer motivations and preferences, offering a more nuanced understanding of the market.

Key considerations for integrating secondary research into your research planning and strategy include:

  • Research Objectives : Clearly defining what you aim to discover or decide based on your research.
  • Availability of Data : Assessing the extent and relevance of existing data related to your research question.
  • Budget and Time Constraints : Considering the resources available for conducting research, including time, money, and personnel.
  • Research Scope : Determining the breadth and depth of the information needed to meet your research objectives.

Secondary research is a powerful tool when used strategically, providing a cost-effective, efficient way to gather insights and inform decision-making processes across academic and professional contexts.

How to Conduct Secondary Research

Conducting secondary research is a systematic process that involves several key steps to ensure the relevance, accuracy, and utility of the information gathered. Here's a step-by-step guide to effective secondary research:

  • Identifying Research Objectives, Topics, and Questions : Begin with a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with your research. This includes defining your research objectives, topics, and specific questions you seek to answer. This clarity guides the entire research process, ensuring that you remain focused on relevant information.
  • Finding Relevant Data Sources : Search for secondary data sources that are likely to contain the information you need. This involves exploring a variety of sources such as academic journals, industry reports, government databases, and news archives. Prioritize sources known for their credibility and authority in the subject matter.
  • Collecting and Verifying Existing Data : Once you've identified potential sources, collect the data that pertains to your research questions. Pay close attention to the publication date, authorship, and the methodology used in collecting the original data to ensure its relevance and reliability.
  • Data Compilation and Analysis : Compile the collected data in a structured format that allows for analysis. Employ analytical methods suited to your research objectives, such as trend analysis, comparative analysis, or thematic analysis, to draw insights from the data.

The success of secondary research hinges on the critical evaluation of sources for their credibility, relevance, and timeliness. It's essential to approach this process with a discerning eye, acknowledging the limitations of secondary data and the potential need for further investigation through primary research.

Types of Secondary Research Methods with Examples

Secondary research methods offer a range of approaches for leveraging existing data, each providing value in extracting insights relevant to various business and academic needs. Understanding the unique advantages of each method can guide researchers in choosing the most appropriate approach for their specific objectives.

Literature Reviews

Literature reviews synthesize existing research and publications to identify trends, gaps, and consensus within a field of study. This method provides a comprehensive overview of what is already known about a topic, saving time and resources by building on existing knowledge rather than starting from scratch.

Real-World Example : A marketing firm conducting a literature review on consumer behavior in the digital age might uncover a trend towards increased mobile shopping. This insight leads to a strategic recommendation for a retail client to prioritize mobile app development and optimize their online store for mobile users, directly impacting the client's digital marketing strategy.

Data Mining

Data mining involves analyzing large sets of data to discover patterns, correlations, or trends that are not immediately apparent. This method can uncover hidden insights from the data that businesses can use to inform decision-making, such as identifying new market opportunities or optimizing operational efficiencies.

Real-World Example : Through data mining of customer purchase histories and online behavior data, a retail company identifies a previously unnoticed correlation between the purchase of certain products and the time of year. Utilizing this insight, the company adjusts its inventory levels and marketing campaigns seasonally, significantly boosting sales and customer satisfaction.

Meta-Analysis

Meta-analysis aggregates and systematically analyzes results from multiple studies to draw general conclusions about a research question. This method provides a high level of evidence by combining findings, offering a powerful tool for making informed decisions based on a broader range of data than any single study could provide.

Real-World Example : A pharmaceutical company uses meta-analysis to combine findings from various clinical trials of a new drug. The meta-analysis reveals a statistically significant benefit of the drug that was not conclusive in individual studies. This insight supports the company's application for regulatory approval and guides the development of marketing strategies targeting specific patient demographics.

Data Analysis

Secondary data analysis applies statistical techniques to analyze existing datasets, offering a cost-effective way to gain insights without the need for new data collection. This method can identify trends, patterns, and relationships that inform strategic planning and decision-making.

Real-World Example : An investment firm analyzes historical economic data and stock market trends using secondary data analysis. They identify a recurring pattern preceding market downturns. By applying this insight to their investment strategy, the firm successfully mitigates risk and enhances portfolio performance for their clients.

Content Analysis

Content analysis systematically examines the content of communication mediums to understand messages, themes, or biases . This qualitative method can reveal insights into public opinion, media representation, and communication strategies, offering valuable information for marketing, public relations, and media strategies.

Real-World Example : A technology company employs content analysis to review online customer reviews and social media mentions of its products. The analysis uncovers a common concern among customers about the usability of a product feature. Responding to this insight, the company revises its product design and launches a targeted communication campaign to address the concerns, improving customer satisfaction and brand perception.

Historical Research

Historical research examines past records and documents to understand historical contexts and trends, offering insights that can inform future predictions, strategy development, and understanding of long-term changes. This method is particularly valuable for understanding the evolution of markets, industries, or consumer behaviors over time.

Real-World Example : A consultancy specializing in sustainable business practices conducts historical research into the adoption of green technologies in the automotive industry. The research identifies key drivers and barriers to adoption over the decades. Leveraging these insights, the consultancy advises new green tech startups on strategies to overcome market resistance and capitalize on drivers of adoption, significantly impacting their market entry strategy.

Each of these secondary research methods provides distinct advantages and can yield valuable insights for businesses and researchers. By carefully selecting and applying the most suitable method(s), organizations can enhance their understanding of complex issues, inform strategic decisions, and achieve competitive advantage.

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Examples of Secondary Sources in Research

Secondary sources are crucial for researchers across disciplines, offering a wealth of information that can provide insights, support hypotheses, and inform strategies. Understanding the unique value of different types of secondary sources can help researchers effectively harness this wealth of information. Below, we explore various secondary sources, highlighting their unique contributions and providing real-world examples of how they can yield valuable business insights.

Books provide comprehensive coverage of a topic, offering depth and context that shorter pieces might miss. They are particularly useful for gaining a thorough understanding of a subject's historical background and theoretical framework.

Example : A corporation exploring the feasibility of entering a new international market utilizes books on the country's cultural and economic history. This deep dive helps the company understand market nuances, leading to a tailored market entry strategy that aligns with local consumer preferences and cultural norms.

Scholarly Journals

Scholarly journals offer peer-reviewed, cutting-edge research findings, making them invaluable for staying abreast of the latest developments in a field. They provide detailed methodologies, rigorous data analysis, and discussions of findings in a specific area of study.

Example : An investment firm relies on scholarly articles to understand recent advancements in financial technology. Discovering research on blockchain's impact on transaction security and efficiency, the firm decides to invest in fintech startups specializing in blockchain technology, positioning itself ahead in the market.

Government Reports

Government reports deliver authoritative data on a wide range of topics, including economic indicators, demographic trends, and regulatory guidelines. Their reliability and the breadth of topics covered make them an essential resource for informed decision-making.

Example : A healthcare provider examines government health reports to identify trends in public health issues. Spotting an increase in lifestyle-related diseases, the provider expands its wellness programs, directly addressing the growing demand for preventive care services.

Market Research Reports

Market research reports provide insights into industry trends, consumer behavior, and competitive landscapes. These reports are invaluable for making informed business decisions, from product development to marketing strategies.

Example : A consumer goods company reviews market research reports to analyze trends in eco-friendly packaging. Learning about the positive consumer response to sustainable packaging, the company redesigns its packaging to be more environmentally friendly, resulting in increased brand loyalty and market share.

White Papers

White papers offer in-depth analysis or arguments on specific issues, often highlighting solutions or innovations. They are a key resource for understanding complex problems, technological advancements, and industry best practices.

Example : A technology firm exploring the implementation of AI in customer service operations consults white papers on AI applications. Insights from these papers guide the development of an AI-powered customer service chatbot, enhancing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Private Company Data

Data from private companies, such as annual reports or case studies, provides insight into business strategies, performance metrics, and operational challenges. This information can be instrumental in benchmarking and strategic planning.

Example : By analyzing competitor annual reports, a retail chain identifies a gap in the market for affordable luxury products. This insight leads to the launch of a new product line that successfully captures this underserved segment, boosting the company's revenue and market positioning.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Secondary Research

Secondary research offers a foundation upon which organizations can build their knowledge base, informing everything from strategic planning to day-to-day decision-making. However, like any method, it comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these can help researchers and businesses make the most of secondary research while being mindful of its limitations.

Advantages of Secondary Research

  • Cost-Effectiveness : Secondary research is often less expensive than primary research, as it involves the analysis of existing data, eliminating the need for costly data collection processes like surveys or experiments.
  • Time Efficiency : Accessing and analyzing existing data is generally faster than conducting primary research, allowing organizations to make timely decisions based on available information.
  • Broad Scope of Data : Secondary research provides access to a wide range of data across different geographies and time periods, enabling comprehensive market analyses and trend identification.
  • Basis for Primary Research : It can serve as a preliminary step to identify gaps in existing research, helping to pinpoint areas where primary research is needed.

Disadvantages of Secondary Research

  • Relevance and Specificity : Existing data may not perfectly align with the current research objectives, leading to potential mismatches in relevance and specificity.
  • Data Quality and Accuracy : The quality and accuracy of secondary data can vary, depending on the source. Researchers must critically assess the credibility of their sources to ensure the reliability of their findings.
  • Timeliness : Data may be outdated, especially in fast-moving sectors where recent information is crucial for making informed decisions.
  • Limited Control Over Data : Researchers have no control over how data was collected and processed, which may affect its suitability for their specific research needs.

Secondary research, when approached with an understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, has the potential be a powerful tool. By effectively navigating its advantages and limitations, businesses can lay a solid foundation for informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Primary vs. Secondary Research: A Comparative Analysis

When undertaking a research project, understanding the distinction between primary and secondary research is pivotal. Both forms of research serve their own purposes and can complement each other in providing a comprehensive overview of a given topic.

What is Primary Research?

Primary research involves the collection of original data directly from sources. This method is firsthand and is specific to the researcher's questions or hypotheses.

The main advantage of primary research is its specificity and relevancy to the particular issue or question at hand. It offers up-to-date and highly relevant data that is directly applicable to the research objectives.

Example : A company planning to launch a new beverage product conducts focus groups and survey research to understand consumer preferences. Through this process, they gather firsthand insights on flavors, packaging, and pricing preferences specific to their target market.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary research involves the analysis of existing information compiled and collected by others. It includes studies, reports, and data from government agencies, trade associations, and other organizations.

Secondary research provides a broad understanding of the topic at hand, offering insights that can help frame primary research. It is cost-effective and time-saving, as it leverages already available data.

Example : The same company explores industry reports, academic research, and market analyses to understand broader market trends, competitor strategies, and consumer behavior within the beverage industry.

Comparative Analysis

Data Type

Original, firsthand data

Pre-existing, compiled data

Collection Method

Surveys, interviews, observations

Analysis of existing sources

Cost and Time

Higher cost, more time-consuming

Lower cost, less time-consuming

Specificity

High specificity to research question

General overview of the topic

Application

In-depth analysis of specific issues

Preliminary understanding, context setting

Synergistic Use in Research

The most effective research strategies often involve a blend of both primary and secondary research. Secondary research can serve as a foundation, helping to inform the development of primary research by identifying gaps in existing knowledge and refining research questions.

Understanding the distinct roles and benefits of primary and secondary research is crucial for any successful research project. By effectively leveraging both types of research, researchers can gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of their subject matter, leading to more informed decisions and strategies. Remember, the choice between primary and secondary research should be guided by your research objectives, resources, and the specificity of information required.

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What is Secondary Research? Types, Methods, Examples

Appinio Research · 20.09.2023 · 13min read

What Is Secondary Research Types Methods Examples

Have you ever wondered how researchers gather valuable insights without conducting new experiments or surveys? That's where secondary research steps in—a powerful approach that allows us to explore existing data and information others collect.

Whether you're a student, a professional, or someone seeking to make informed decisions, understanding the art of secondary research opens doors to a wealth of knowledge.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary Research refers to the process of gathering and analyzing existing data, information, and knowledge that has been previously collected and compiled by others. This approach allows researchers to leverage available sources, such as articles, reports, and databases, to gain insights, validate hypotheses, and make informed decisions without collecting new data.

Benefits of Secondary Research

Secondary research offers a range of advantages that can significantly enhance your research process and the quality of your findings.

  • Time and Cost Efficiency: Secondary research saves time and resources by utilizing existing data sources, eliminating the need for data collection from scratch.
  • Wide Range of Data: Secondary research provides access to vast information from various sources, allowing for comprehensive analysis.
  • Historical Perspective: Examining past research helps identify trends, changes, and long-term patterns that might not be immediately apparent.
  • Reduced Bias: As data is collected by others, there's often less inherent bias than in conducting primary research, where biases might affect data collection.
  • Support for Primary Research: Secondary research can lay the foundation for primary research by providing context and insights into gaps in existing knowledge.
  • Comparative Analysis : By integrating data from multiple sources, you can conduct robust comparative analyses for more accurate conclusions.
  • Benchmarking and Validation: Secondary research aids in benchmarking performance against industry standards and validating hypotheses.

Primary Research vs. Secondary Research

When it comes to research methodologies, primary and secondary research each have their distinct characteristics and advantages. Here's a brief comparison to help you understand the differences.

Primary vs Secondary Research Comparison Appinio

Primary Research

  • Data Source: Involves collecting new data directly from original sources.
  • Data Collection: Researchers design and conduct surveys, interviews, experiments, or observations.
  • Time and Resources: Typically requires more time, effort, and resources due to data collection.
  • Fresh Insights: Provides firsthand, up-to-date information tailored to specific research questions.
  • Control: Researchers control the data collection process and can shape methodologies.

Secondary Research

  • Data Source: Involves utilizing existing data and information collected by others.
  • Data Collection: Researchers search, select, and analyze data from published sources, reports, and databases.
  • Time and Resources: Generally more time-efficient and cost-effective as data is already available.
  • Existing Knowledge: Utilizes data that has been previously compiled, often providing broader context.
  • Less Control: Researchers have limited control over how data was collected originally, if any.

Choosing between primary and secondary research depends on your research objectives, available resources, and the depth of insights you require.

Types of Secondary Research

Secondary research encompasses various types of existing data sources that can provide valuable insights for your research endeavors. Understanding these types can help you choose the most relevant sources for your objectives.

Here are the primary types of secondary research:

Internal Sources

Internal sources consist of data generated within your organization or entity. These sources provide valuable insights into your own operations and performance.

  • Company Records and Data: Internal reports, documents, and databases that house information about sales, operations, and customer interactions.
  • Sales Reports and Customer Data: Analysis of past sales trends, customer demographics, and purchasing behavior.
  • Financial Statements and Annual Reports: Financial data, such as balance sheets and income statements, offer insights into the organization's financial health.

External Sources

External sources encompass data collected and published by entities outside your organization.

These sources offer a broader perspective on various subjects.

  • Published Literature and Journals: Scholarly articles, research papers, and academic studies available in journals or online databases.
  • Market Research Reports: Reports from market research firms that provide insights into industry trends, consumer behavior, and market forecasts.
  • Government and NGO Databases: Data collected and maintained by government agencies and non-governmental organizations, offering demographic, economic, and social information.
  • Online Media and News Articles: News outlets and online publications that cover current events, trends, and societal developments.

Each type of secondary research source holds its value and relevance, depending on the nature of your research objectives. Combining these sources lets you understand the subject matter and make informed decisions.

How to Conduct Secondary Research?

Effective secondary research involves a thoughtful and systematic approach that enables you to extract valuable insights from existing data sources. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to navigate the process:

1. Define Your Research Objectives

Before delving into secondary research, clearly define what you aim to achieve. Identify the specific questions you want to answer, the insights you're seeking, and the scope of your research.

2. Identify Relevant Sources

Begin by identifying the most appropriate sources for your research. Consider the nature of your research objectives and the data type you require. Seek out sources such as academic journals, market research reports, official government databases, and reputable news outlets.

3. Evaluate Source Credibility

Ensuring the credibility of your sources is crucial. Evaluate the reliability of each source by assessing factors such as the author's expertise, the publication's reputation, and the objectivity of the information provided. Choose sources that align with your research goals and are free from bias.

4. Extract and Analyze Information

Once you've gathered your sources, carefully extract the relevant information. Take thorough notes, capturing key data points, insights, and any supporting evidence. As you accumulate information, start identifying patterns, trends, and connections across different sources.

5. Synthesize Findings

As you analyze the data, synthesize your findings to draw meaningful conclusions. Compare and contrast information from various sources to identify common themes and discrepancies. This synthesis process allows you to construct a coherent narrative that addresses your research objectives.

6. Address Limitations and Gaps

Acknowledge the limitations and potential gaps in your secondary research. Recognize that secondary data might have inherent biases or be outdated. Where necessary, address these limitations by cross-referencing information or finding additional sources to fill in gaps.

7. Contextualize Your Findings

Contextualization is crucial in deriving actionable insights from your secondary research. Consider the broader context within which the data was collected. How does the information relate to current trends, societal changes, or industry shifts? This contextual understanding enhances the relevance and applicability of your findings.

8. Cite Your Sources

Maintain academic integrity by properly citing the sources you've used for your secondary research. Accurate citations not only give credit to the original authors but also provide a clear trail for readers to access the information themselves.

9. Integrate Secondary and Primary Research (If Applicable)

In some cases, combining secondary and primary research can yield more robust insights. If you've also conducted primary research, consider integrating your secondary findings with your primary data to provide a well-rounded perspective on your research topic.

You can use a market research platform like Appinio to conduct primary research with real-time insights in minutes!

10. Communicate Your Findings

Finally, communicate your findings effectively. Whether it's in an academic paper, a business report, or any other format, present your insights clearly and concisely. Provide context for your conclusions and use visual aids like charts and graphs to enhance understanding.

Remember that conducting secondary research is not just about gathering information—it's about critically analyzing, interpreting, and deriving valuable insights from existing data. By following these steps, you'll navigate the process successfully and contribute to the body of knowledge in your field.

Secondary Research Examples

To better understand how secondary research is applied in various contexts, let's explore a few real-world examples that showcase its versatility and value.

Market Analysis and Trend Forecasting

Imagine you're a marketing strategist tasked with launching a new product in the smartphone industry. By conducting secondary research, you can:

  • Access Market Reports: Utilize market research reports to understand consumer preferences, competitive landscape, and growth projections.
  • Analyze Trends: Examine past sales data and industry reports to identify trends in smartphone features, design, and user preferences.
  • Benchmark Competitors: Compare market share, customer satisfaction, and pricing strategies of key competitors to develop a strategic advantage.
  • Forecast Demand: Use historical sales data and market growth predictions to estimate demand for your new product.

Academic Research and Literature Reviews

Suppose you're a student researching climate change's effects on marine ecosystems. Secondary research aids your academic endeavors by:

  • Reviewing Existing Studies: Analyze peer-reviewed articles and scientific papers to understand the current state of knowledge on the topic.
  • Identifying Knowledge Gaps: Identify areas where further research is needed based on what existing studies still need to cover.
  • Comparing Methodologies: Compare research methodologies used by different studies to assess the strengths and limitations of their approaches.
  • Synthesizing Insights: Synthesize findings from various studies to form a comprehensive overview of the topic's implications on marine life.

Competitive Landscape Assessment for Business Strategy

Consider you're a business owner looking to expand your restaurant chain to a new location. Secondary research aids your strategic decision-making by:

  • Analyzing Demographics: Utilize demographic data from government databases to understand the local population's age, income, and preferences.
  • Studying Local Trends: Examine restaurant industry reports to identify the types of cuisines and dining experiences currently popular in the area.
  • Understanding Consumer Behavior: Analyze online reviews and social media discussions to gauge customer sentiment towards existing restaurants in the vicinity.
  • Assessing Economic Conditions: Access economic reports to evaluate the local economy's stability and potential purchasing power.

These examples illustrate the practical applications of secondary research across various fields to provide a foundation for informed decision-making, deeper understanding, and innovation.

Secondary Research Limitations

While secondary research offers many benefits, it's essential to be aware of its limitations to ensure the validity and reliability of your findings.

  • Data Quality and Validity: The accuracy and reliability of secondary data can vary, affecting the credibility of your research.
  • Limited Contextual Information: Secondary sources might lack detailed contextual information, making it important to interpret findings within the appropriate context.
  • Data Suitability: Existing data might not align perfectly with your research objectives, leading to compromises or incomplete insights.
  • Outdated Information: Some sources might provide obsolete information that doesn't accurately reflect current trends or situations.
  • Potential Bias: While secondary data is often less biased, biases might still exist in the original data sources, influencing your findings.
  • Incompatibility of Data: Combining data from different sources might pose challenges due to variations in definitions, methodologies, or units of measurement.
  • Lack of Control: Unlike primary research, you have no control over how data was collected or its quality, potentially affecting your analysis. Understanding these limitations will help you navigate secondary research effectively and make informed decisions based on a well-rounded understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.

Secondary research is a valuable tool that businesses can use to their advantage. By tapping into existing data and insights, companies can save time, resources, and effort that would otherwise be spent on primary research. This approach equips decision-makers with a broader understanding of market trends, consumer behaviors, and competitive landscapes. Additionally, benchmarking against industry standards and validating hypotheses empowers businesses to make informed choices that lead to growth and success.

As you navigate the world of secondary research, remember that it's not just about data retrieval—it's about strategic utilization. With a clear grasp of how to access, analyze, and interpret existing information, businesses can stay ahead of the curve, adapt to changing landscapes, and make decisions that are grounded in reliable knowledge.

How to Conduct Secondary Research in Minutes?

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  • Fast Insights: Say goodbye to lengthy research processes. With Appinio, you can transform questions into actionable insights in minutes.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Harness the power of real-time consumer insights to drive your business strategies, allowing you to make informed choices on the fly.
  • Seamless Integration: Appinio handles the research and technical complexities, freeing you to focus on what truly matters: making rapid data-driven decisions that propel your business forward.

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Home Market Research

Secondary Research: Definition, Methods and Examples.

secondary research

In the world of research, there are two main types of data sources: primary and secondary. While primary research involves collecting new data directly from individuals or sources, secondary research involves analyzing existing data already collected by someone else. Today we’ll discuss secondary research.

One common source of this research is published research reports and other documents. These materials can often be found in public libraries, on websites, or even as data extracted from previously conducted surveys. In addition, many government and non-government agencies maintain extensive data repositories that can be accessed for research purposes.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

While secondary research may not offer the same level of control as primary research, it can be a highly valuable tool for gaining insights and identifying trends. Researchers can save time and resources by leveraging existing data sources while still uncovering important information.

What is Secondary Research: Definition

Secondary research is a research method that involves using already existing data. Existing data is summarized and collated to increase the overall effectiveness of the research.

One of the key advantages of secondary research is that it allows us to gain insights and draw conclusions without having to collect new data ourselves. This can save time and resources and also allow us to build upon existing knowledge and expertise.

When conducting secondary research, it’s important to be thorough and thoughtful in our approach. This means carefully selecting the sources and ensuring that the data we’re analyzing is reliable and relevant to the research question . It also means being critical and analytical in the analysis and recognizing any potential biases or limitations in the data.

LEARN ABOUT: Level of Analysis

Secondary research is much more cost-effective than primary research , as it uses already existing data, unlike primary research, where data is collected firsthand by organizations or businesses or they can employ a third party to collect data on their behalf.

LEARN ABOUT: Data Analytics Projects

Secondary Research Methods with Examples

Secondary research is cost-effective, one of the reasons it is a popular choice among many businesses and organizations. Not every organization is able to pay a huge sum of money to conduct research and gather data. So, rightly secondary research is also termed “ desk research ”, as data can be retrieved from sitting behind a desk.

how to create secondary research

The following are popularly used secondary research methods and examples:

1. Data Available on The Internet

One of the most popular ways to collect secondary data is the internet. Data is readily available on the internet and can be downloaded at the click of a button.

This data is practically free of cost, or one may have to pay a negligible amount to download the already existing data. Websites have a lot of information that businesses or organizations can use to suit their research needs. However, organizations need to consider only authentic and trusted website to collect information.

2. Government and Non-Government Agencies

Data for secondary research can also be collected from some government and non-government agencies. For example, US Government Printing Office, US Census Bureau, and Small Business Development Centers have valuable and relevant data that businesses or organizations can use.

There is a certain cost applicable to download or use data available with these agencies. Data obtained from these agencies are authentic and trustworthy.

3. Public Libraries

Public libraries are another good source to search for data for this research. Public libraries have copies of important research that were conducted earlier. They are a storehouse of important information and documents from which information can be extracted.

The services provided in these public libraries vary from one library to another. More often, libraries have a huge collection of government publications with market statistics, large collection of business directories and newsletters.

4. Educational Institutions

Importance of collecting data from educational institutions for secondary research is often overlooked. However, more research is conducted in colleges and universities than any other business sector.

The data that is collected by universities is mainly for primary research. However, businesses or organizations can approach educational institutions and request for data from them.

5. Commercial Information Sources

Local newspapers, journals, magazines, radio and TV stations are a great source to obtain data for secondary research. These commercial information sources have first-hand information on economic developments, political agenda, market research, demographic segmentation and similar subjects.

Businesses or organizations can request to obtain data that is most relevant to their study. Businesses not only have the opportunity to identify their prospective clients but can also know about the avenues to promote their products or services through these sources as they have a wider reach.

Key Differences between Primary Research and Secondary Research

Understanding the distinction between primary research and secondary research is essential in determining which research method is best for your project. These are the two main types of research methods, each with advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will explore the critical differences between the two and when it is appropriate to use them.

Research is conducted first hand to obtain data. Researcher “owns” the data collected. Research is based on data collected from previous researches.
is based on raw data. Secondary research is based on tried and tested data which is previously analyzed and filtered.
The data collected fits the needs of a researcher, it is customized. Data is collected based on the absolute needs of organizations or businesses.Data may or may not be according to the requirement of a researcher.
Researcher is deeply involved in research to collect data in primary research. As opposed to primary research, secondary research is fast and easy. It aims at gaining a broader understanding of subject matter.
Primary research is an expensive process and consumes a lot of time to collect and analyze data. Secondary research is a quick process as data is already available. Researcher should know where to explore to get most appropriate data.

How to Conduct Secondary Research?

We have already learned about the differences between primary and secondary research. Now, let’s take a closer look at how to conduct it.

Secondary research is an important tool for gathering information already collected and analyzed by others. It can help us save time and money and allow us to gain insights into the subject we are researching. So, in this section, we will discuss some common methods and tips for conducting it effectively.

Here are the steps involved in conducting secondary research:

1. Identify the topic of research: Before beginning secondary research, identify the topic that needs research. Once that’s done, list down the research attributes and its purpose.

2. Identify research sources: Next, narrow down on the information sources that will provide most relevant data and information applicable to your research.

3. Collect existing data: Once the data collection sources are narrowed down, check for any previous data that is available which is closely related to the topic. Data related to research can be obtained from various sources like newspapers, public libraries, government and non-government agencies etc.

4. Combine and compare: Once data is collected, combine and compare the data for any duplication and assemble data into a usable format. Make sure to collect data from authentic sources. Incorrect data can hamper research severely.

4. Analyze data: Analyze collected data and identify if all questions are answered. If not, repeat the process if there is a need to dwell further into actionable insights.

Advantages of Secondary Research

Secondary research offers a number of advantages to researchers, including efficiency, the ability to build upon existing knowledge, and the ability to conduct research in situations where primary research may not be possible or ethical. By carefully selecting their sources and being thoughtful in their approach, researchers can leverage secondary research to drive impact and advance the field. Some key advantages are the following:

1. Most information in this research is readily available. There are many sources from which relevant data can be collected and used, unlike primary research, where data needs to collect from scratch.

2. This is a less expensive and less time-consuming process as data required is easily available and doesn’t cost much if extracted from authentic sources. A minimum expenditure is associated to obtain data.

3. The data that is collected through secondary research gives organizations or businesses an idea about the effectiveness of primary research. Hence, organizations or businesses can form a hypothesis and evaluate cost of conducting primary research.

4. Secondary research is quicker to conduct because of the availability of data. It can be completed within a few weeks depending on the objective of businesses or scale of data needed.

As we can see, this research is the process of analyzing data already collected by someone else, and it can offer a number of benefits to researchers.

Disadvantages of Secondary Research

On the other hand, we have some disadvantages that come with doing secondary research. Some of the most notorious are the following:

1. Although data is readily available, credibility evaluation must be performed to understand the authenticity of the information available.

2. Not all secondary data resources offer the latest reports and statistics. Even when the data is accurate, it may not be updated enough to accommodate recent timelines.

3. Secondary research derives its conclusion from collective primary research data. The success of your research will depend, to a greater extent, on the quality of research already conducted by primary research.

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

In conclusion, secondary research is an important tool for researchers exploring various topics. By leveraging existing data sources, researchers can save time and resources, build upon existing knowledge, and conduct research in situations where primary research may not be feasible.

There are a variety of methods and examples of secondary research, from analyzing public data sets to reviewing previously published research papers. As students and aspiring researchers, it’s important to understand the benefits and limitations of this research and to approach it thoughtfully and critically. By doing so, we can continue to advance our understanding of the world around us and contribute to meaningful research that positively impacts society.

QuestionPro can be a useful tool for conducting secondary research in a variety of ways. You can create online surveys that target a specific population, collecting data that can be analyzed to gain insights into consumer behavior, attitudes, and preferences; analyze existing data sets that you have obtained through other means or benchmark your organization against others in your industry or against industry standards. The software provides a range of benchmarking tools that can help you compare your performance on key metrics, such as customer satisfaction, with that of your peers.

Using QuestionPro thoughtfully and strategically allows you to gain valuable insights to inform decision-making and drive business success. Start today for free! No credit card is required.

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What is secondary research?

Last updated

7 February 2023

Reviewed by

Cathy Heath

In this guide, we explain in detail what secondary research is, including the difference between this research method and primary research, the different sources for secondary research, and how you can benefit from this research method.

Analyze your secondary research

Bring your secondary research together inside Dovetail, tag PDFs, and uncover actionable insights

  • Overview of secondary research

Secondary research is a method by which the researcher finds existing data, filters it to meet the context of their research question, analyzes it, and then summarizes it to come up with valid research conclusions.

This research method involves searching for information, often via the internet, using keywords or search terms relevant to the research question. The goal is to find data from internal and external sources that are up-to-date and authoritative, and that fully answer the question.

Secondary research reviews existing research and looks for patterns, trends, and insights, which helps determine what further research, if any, is needed.

  • Secondary research methods

Secondary research is more economical than primary research, mainly because the methods for this type of research use existing data and do not require the data to be collected first-hand or by a third party that you have to pay.

Secondary research is referred to as ‘desk research’ or ‘desktop research,’ since the data can be retrieved from behind a desk instead of having to host a focus group and create the research from scratch.

Finding existing research is relatively easy since there are numerous accessible sources organizations can use to obtain the information they need. These  include:

The internet:  This data is either free or behind a paywall. Yet, while there are plenty of sites on the internet with information that can be used, businesses need to be careful to collect information from trusted and authentic websites to ensure the data is accurate.

Government agencies: Government agencies are typically known to provide valuable, trustworthy information that companies can use for their research.

The public library: This establishment holds paper-based and online sources of reliable information, including business databases, magazines, newspapers, and government publications. Be mindful of any copyright restrictions that may apply when using these sources.

Commercial information: This source provides first-hand information on politics, demographics, and economic developments through information aggregators, newspapers, magazines, radio, blogs, podcasts, and journals. This information may be free or behind a paywall.

Educational and scientific facilities: Universities, colleges, and specialized research facilities carry out significant amounts of research. As a result, they have data that may be available to the public and businesses for use.

  • Key differences between primary research and secondary research

Both primary and secondary research methods provide researchers with vital, complementary information, despite some major differences between the two approaches.

Primary research involves gathering first-hand information by directly working with the target market, users, and interviewees. Researchers ask questions directly using surveys , interviews, and focus groups.

Through the primary research method, researchers obtain targeted responses and accurate results directly related to their overall research goals.

Secondary research uses existing data, such as published reports, that have already been completed through earlier primary and secondary research. Researchers can use this existing data to support their research goals and preliminary research findings.

Other notable differences between primary and secondary research  include:

Relevance: Primary research uses raw data relevant to the investigation's goals. Secondary research may contain irrelevant data or may not neatly fit the parameters of the researcher's goals.

Time: Primary research takes a lot of time. Secondary research can be done relatively quickly.

Researcher bias: Primary research can be subject to researcher bias.

Cost: Primary research can be expensive. Secondary research can be more affordable because the data is often free. However, valuable data is often behind a paywall. The piece of secondary research you want may not exist or be very expensive, so you may have to turn to primary research to fill the information gap.

  • When to conduct secondary research

Both primary and secondary research have roles to play in providing a holistic and accurate understanding of a topic. Generally, secondary research is done at the beginning of the research phase, especially if the topic is new.

Secondary research can provide context and critical background information to understand the issue at hand and identify any gaps, that could then be filled by primary research.

  • How to conduct secondary research

Researchers usually follow several steps for secondary research.

1. Identify and define the research topic

Before starting either of these research methods, you first need to determine the following:

Topic to be researched

Purpose of this research

For instance, you may want to explore a question, determine why something happened, or confirm whether an issue is true.

At this stage, you also need to consider what search terms or keywords might be the most effective for this topic. You could do this by looking at what synonyms exist for your topic, the use of industry terms and acronyms, as well as the balance between statistical or quantitative data and contextual data to support your research topic.

It’s also essential to define what you don’t want to cover in your secondary research process. This might be choosing only to use recent information or only focusing on research based on a particular country or type of consumer. From there, once you know what you want to know and why you can decide whether you need to use both primary and secondary research to answer your questions.

2. Find research and existing data sources

Once you have determined your research topic , select the information sources that will provide you with the most appropriate and relevant data for your research. If you need secondary research, you want to determine where this information can likely be found, for example:

Trade associations

Government sources

Create a list of the relevant data sources , and other organizations or people that can help you find what you need.

3. Begin searching and collecting the existing data

Once you have narrowed down your sources, you will start gathering this information and putting it into an organized system. This often involves:

Checking the credibility of the source

Setting up meetings with research teams

Signing up for accounts to access certain websites or journals

One search result on the internet often leads to other pieces of helpful information, known as ‘pearl gathering’ or ‘pearl harvesting.’ This is usually a serendipitous activity, which can lead to valuable nuggets of information you may not have been aware of or considered.

4. Combine the data and compare the results

Once you have gathered all the data, start going through it by carefully examining all the information and comparing it to ensure the data is usable and that it isn’t duplicated or corrupted. Contradictory information is useful—just make sure you note the contradiction and the context. Be mindful of copyright and plagiarism when using secondary research and always cite your sources.

Once you have assessed everything, you will begin to look at what this information tells you by checking out the trends and comparing the different datasets. You will also investigate what this information means for your research, whether it helps your overall goal, and any gaps or deficiencies.

5. Analyze your data and explore further

In the final stage of conducting secondary research, you will analyze the data you have gathered and determine if it answers the questions you had before you started researching. Check that you understand the information, whether it fills in all your gaps, and whether it provides you with other insights or actions you should take next.

If you still need further data, repeat these steps to find additional information that can help you explore your topic more deeply. You may also need to supplement what you find with primary research to ensure that your data is complete, accurate, transparent, and credible.

  • The advantages of secondary research

There are numerous advantages to performing secondary research. Some key benefits are:

Quicker than primary research: Because the data is already available, you can usually find the information you need fairly quickly. Not only will secondary research help you research faster, but you will also start optimizing the data more quickly.

Plenty of available data: There are countless sources for you to choose from, making research more accessible. This data may be already compiled and arranged, such as statistical information,  so you can quickly make use of it.

Lower costs:  Since you will not have to carry out the research from scratch, secondary research tends to be much more affordable than primary research.

Opens doors to further research:  Existing research usually identifies whether more research needs to be done. This could mean follow-up surveys or telephone interviews with subject matter experts (SME) to add value to your own research.

  • The disadvantages of secondary research

While there are plenty of benefits to secondary research are plenty, there are some issues you should be aware of. These include:

Credibility issues: It is important to verify the sources used. Some information may be biased and not reflect or hide, relevant issues or challenges. It could also be inaccurate.

No recent information:  Even if data may seem accurate, it may not be up to date, so the information you gather may no longer be correct. Outdated research can distort your overall findings.

Poor quality: Because secondary research tends to make conclusions from primary research data, the success of secondary research will depend on the quality and context of the research that has already been completed. If the research you are using is of poor quality, this will bring down the quality of your own findings.

Research doesn’t exist or is not easily accessible, or is expensive: Sometimes the information you need is confidential or proprietary, such as sales or earnings figures. Many information-based businesses attach value to the information they hold or publish, so the costs to access this information can be prohibitive.

Should you complete secondary research or primary research first?

Due to the costs and time involved in primary research, it may be more beneficial to conduct secondary market research first. This will save you time and provide a picture of what issues you may come across in your research. This allows you to focus on using more expensive primary research to get the specific answers you want.

What should you ask yourself before using secondary research data?

Check the date of the research to make sure it is still relevant. Also, determine the data source so you can assess how credible and trustworthy it is likely to be. For example, data from known brands, professional organizations, and even government agencies are usually excellent sources to use in your secondary research, as it tends to be trustworthy.

Be careful when using some websites and personal blogs as they may be based on opinions rather than facts. However, these sources can be useful for determining sentiment about a product or service, and help direct any primary research.

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An illustration of a magnifying glass over a stack of reports representing secondary research.

Secondary Research Guide: Definition, Methods, Examples

Apr 3, 2024

8 min. read

The internet has vastly expanded our access to information, allowing us to learn almost anything about everything. But not all market research is created equal , and this secondary research guide explains why.

There are two key ways to do research. One is to test your own ideas, make your own observations, and collect your own data to derive conclusions. The other is to use secondary research — where someone else has done most of the heavy lifting for you. 

Here’s an overview of secondary research and the value it brings to data-driven businesses.

Secondary Research Definition: What Is Secondary Research?

Primary vs Secondary Market Research

What Are Secondary Research Methods?

Advantages of secondary research, disadvantages of secondary research, best practices for secondary research, how to conduct secondary research with meltwater.

Secondary research definition: The process of collecting information from existing sources and data that have already been analyzed by others.

Secondary research (aka desk research or complementary research ) provides a foundation to help you understand a topic, with the goal of building on existing knowledge. They often cover the same information as primary sources, but they add a layer of analysis and explanation to them.

colleagues working on a secondary research

Users can choose from several secondary research types and sources, including:

  • Journal articles
  • Research papers

With secondary sources, users can draw insights, detect trends , and validate findings to jumpstart their research efforts.

Primary vs. Secondary Market Research

We’ve touched a little on primary research , but it’s essential to understand exactly how primary and secondary research are unique.

laying out the keypoints of a secondary research on a board

Think of primary research as the “thing” itself, and secondary research as the analysis of the “thing,” like these primary and secondary research examples:

  • An expert gives an interview (primary research) and a marketer uses that interview to write an article (secondary research).
  • A company conducts a consumer satisfaction survey (primary research) and a business analyst uses the survey data to write a market trend report (secondary research).
  • A marketing team launches a new advertising campaign across various platforms (primary research) and a marketing research firm, like Meltwater for market research , compiles the campaign performance data to benchmark against industry standards (secondary research).

In other words, primary sources make original contributions to a topic or issue, while secondary sources analyze, synthesize, or interpret primary sources.

Both are necessary when optimizing a business, gaining a competitive edge , improving marketing, or understanding consumer trends that may impact your business.

Secondary research methods focus on analyzing existing data rather than collecting primary data . Common examples of secondary research methods include:

  • Literature review . Researchers analyze and synthesize existing literature (e.g., white papers, research papers, articles) to find knowledge gaps and build on current findings.
  • Content analysis . Researchers review media sources and published content to find meaningful patterns and trends.
  • AI-powered secondary research . Platforms like Meltwater for market research analyze vast amounts of complex data and use AI technologies like natural language processing and machine learning to turn data into contextual insights.

Researchers today have access to more secondary research companies and market research tools and technology than ever before, allowing them to streamline their efforts and improve their findings.

Want to see how Meltwater can complement your secondary market research efforts? Simply fill out the form at the bottom of this post, and we'll be in touch.

Conducting secondary research offers benefits in every job function and use case, from marketing to the C-suite. Here are a few advantages you can expect.

Cost and time efficiency

Using existing research saves you time and money compared to conducting primary research. Secondary data is readily available and easily accessible via libraries, free publications, or the Internet. This is particularly advantageous when you face time constraints or when a project requires a large amount of data and research.

Access to large datasets

Secondary data gives you access to larger data sets and sample sizes compared to what primary methods may produce. Larger sample sizes can improve the statistical power of the study and add more credibility to your findings.

Ability to analyze trends and patterns

Using larger sample sizes, researchers have more opportunities to find and analyze trends and patterns. The more data that supports a trend or pattern, the more trustworthy the trend becomes and the more useful for making decisions. 

Historical context

Using a combination of older and recent data allows researchers to gain historical context about patterns and trends. Learning what’s happened before can help decision-makers gain a better current understanding and improve how they approach a problem or project.

Basis for further research

Ideally, you’ll use secondary research to further other efforts . Secondary sources help to identify knowledge gaps, highlight areas for improvement, or conduct deeper investigations.

Tip: Learn how to use Meltwater as a research tool and how Meltwater uses AI.

Secondary research comes with a few drawbacks, though these aren’t necessarily deal breakers when deciding to use secondary sources.

Reliability concerns

Researchers don’t always know where the data comes from or how it’s collected, which can lead to reliability concerns. They don’t control the initial process, nor do they always know the original purpose for collecting the data, both of which can lead to skewed results.

Potential bias

The original data collectors may have a specific agenda when doing their primary research, which may lead to biased findings. Evaluating the credibility and integrity of secondary data sources can prove difficult.

Outdated information

Secondary sources may contain outdated information, especially when dealing with rapidly evolving trends or fields. Using outdated information can lead to inaccurate conclusions and widen knowledge gaps.

Limitations in customization

Relying on secondary data means being at the mercy of what’s already published. It doesn’t consider your specific use cases, which limits you as to how you can customize and use the data.

A lack of relevance

Secondary research rarely holds all the answers you need, at least from a single source. You typically need multiple secondary sources to piece together a narrative, and even then you might not find the specific information you need.

Advantages of Secondary ResearchDisadvantages of Secondary Research
Cost and time efficiencyReliability concerns
Access to large data setsPotential bias
Ability to analyze trends and patternsOutdated information
Historical contextLimitations in customization
Basis for further researchA lack of relevance

To make secondary market research your new best friend, you’ll need to think critically about its strengths and find ways to overcome its weaknesses. Let’s review some best practices to use secondary research to its fullest potential.

Identify credible sources for secondary research

To overcome the challenges of bias, accuracy, and reliability, choose secondary sources that have a demonstrated history of excellence . For example, an article published in a medical journal naturally has more credibility than a blog post on a little-known website.

analyzing data resulting from a secondary research

Assess credibility based on peer reviews, author expertise, sampling techniques, publication reputation, and data collection methodologies. Cross-reference the data with other sources to gain a general consensus of truth.

The more credibility “factors” a source has, the more confidently you can rely on it. 

Evaluate the quality and relevance of secondary data

You can gauge the quality of the data by asking simple questions:

  • How complete is the data? 
  • How old is the data? 
  • Is this data relevant to my needs?
  • Does the data come from a known, trustworthy source?

It’s best to focus on data that aligns with your research objectives. Knowing the questions you want to answer and the outcomes you want to achieve ahead of time helps you focus only on data that offers meaningful insights.

Document your sources 

If you’re sharing secondary data with others, it’s essential to document your sources to gain others’ trust. They don’t have the benefit of being “in the trenches” with you during your research, and sharing your sources can add credibility to your findings and gain instant buy-in.

Secondary market research offers an efficient, cost-effective way to learn more about a topic or trend, providing a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey . Compared to primary research, users can gain broader insights, analyze trends and patterns, and gain a solid foundation for further exploration by using secondary sources.

Meltwater for market research speeds up the time to value in using secondary research with AI-powered insights, enhancing your understanding of the customer journey. Using natural language processing, machine learning, and trusted data science processes, Meltwater helps you find relevant data and automatically surfaces insights to help you understand its significance. Our solution identifies hidden connections between data points you might not know to look for and spells out what the data means, allowing you to make better decisions based on accurate conclusions. Learn more about Meltwater's power as a secondary research solution when you request a demo by filling out the form below:

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  • What is Secondary Research? | Definition, Types, & Examples

What is Secondary Research? | Definition, Types, & Examples

Published on 20 January 2023 by Tegan George .

Secondary research is a research method that uses data that was collected by someone else. In other words, whenever you conduct research using data that already exists, you are conducting secondary research. On the other hand, any type of research that you undertake yourself is called primary research .

Secondary research can be qualitative or quantitative in nature. It often uses data gathered from published peer-reviewed papers, meta-analyses, or government or private sector databases and datasets.

Table of contents

When to use secondary research, types of secondary research, examples of secondary research, advantages and disadvantages of secondary research, frequently asked questions.

Secondary research is a very common research method, used in lieu of collecting your own primary data. It is often used in research designs or as a way to start your research process if you plan to conduct primary research later on.

Since it is often inexpensive or free to access, secondary research is a low-stakes way to determine if further primary research is needed, as gaps in secondary research are a strong indication that primary research is necessary. For this reason, while secondary research can theoretically be exploratory or explanatory in nature, it is usually explanatory: aiming to explain the causes and consequences of a well-defined problem.

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Secondary research can take many forms, but the most common types are:

Statistical analysis

Literature reviews, case studies, content analysis.

There is ample data available online from a variety of sources, often in the form of datasets. These datasets are often open-source or downloadable at a low cost, and are ideal for conducting statistical analyses such as hypothesis testing or regression analysis .

Credible sources for existing data include:

  • The government
  • Government agencies
  • Non-governmental organizations
  • Educational institutions
  • Businesses or consultancies
  • Libraries or archives
  • Newspapers, academic journals, or magazines

A literature review is a survey of preexisting scholarly sources on your topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant themes, debates, and gaps in the research you analyse. You can later apply these to your own work, or use them as a jumping-off point to conduct primary research of your own.

Structured much like a regular academic paper (with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion), a literature review is a great way to evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.

A case study is a detailed study of a specific subject. It is usually qualitative in nature and can focus on  a person, group, place, event, organisation, or phenomenon. A case study is a great way to utilise existing research to gain concrete, contextual, and in-depth knowledge about your real-world subject.

You can choose to focus on just one complex case, exploring a single subject in great detail, or examine multiple cases if you’d prefer to compare different aspects of your topic. Preexisting interviews , observational studies , or other sources of primary data make for great case studies.

Content analysis is a research method that studies patterns in recorded communication by utilizing existing texts. It can be either quantitative or qualitative in nature, depending on whether you choose to analyse countable or measurable patterns, or more interpretive ones. Content analysis is popular in communication studies, but it is also widely used in historical analysis, anthropology, and psychology to make more semantic qualitative inferences.

Secondary research is a broad research approach that can be pursued any way you’d like. Here are a few examples of different ways you can use secondary research to explore your research topic .

Secondary research is a very common research approach, but has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of secondary research

Advantages include:

  • Secondary data is very easy to source and readily available .
  • It is also often free or accessible through your educational institution’s library or network, making it much cheaper to conduct than primary research .
  • As you are relying on research that already exists, conducting secondary research is much less time consuming than primary research. Since your timeline is so much shorter, your research can be ready to publish sooner.
  • Using data from others allows you to show reproducibility and replicability , bolstering prior research and situating your own work within your field.

Disadvantages of secondary research

Disadvantages include:

  • Ease of access does not signify credibility . It’s important to be aware that secondary research is not always reliable , and can often be out of date. It’s critical to analyse any data you’re thinking of using prior to getting started, using a method like the CRAAP test .
  • Secondary research often relies on primary research already conducted. If this original research is biased in any way, those research biases could creep into the secondary results.

Many researchers using the same secondary research to form similar conclusions can also take away from the uniqueness and reliability of your research. Many datasets become ‘kitchen-sink’ models, where too many variables are added in an attempt to draw increasingly niche conclusions from overused data . Data cleansing may be necessary to test the quality of the research.

A systematic review is secondary research because it uses existing research. You don’t collect new data yourself.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts, and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyse a large amount of readily available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how they are generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to test a hypothesis by systematically collecting and analysing data, while qualitative methods allow you to explore ideas and experiences in depth.

Sources for this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

George, T. (2023, January 20). What is Secondary Research? | Definition, Types, & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 15 July 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/research-methods/secondary-research-explained/
Largan, C., & Morris, T. M. (2019). Qualitative Secondary Research: A Step-By-Step Guide (1st ed.). SAGE Publications Ltd.
Peloquin, D., DiMaio, M., Bierer, B., & Barnes, M. (2020). Disruptive and avoidable: GDPR challenges to secondary research uses of data. European Journal of Human Genetics , 28 (6), 697–705. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41431-020-0596-x

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Secondary research, also known as a literature review , preliminary research , historical research , background research , desk research , or library research , is research that analyzes or describes prior research. Rather than generating and analyzing new data, secondary research analyzes existing research results to establish the boundaries of knowledge on a topic, to identify trends or new practices, to test mathematical models or train machine learning systems, or to verify facts and figures. Secondary research is also used to justify the need for primary research as well as to justify and support other activities. For example, secondary research may be used to support a proposal to modernize a manufacturing plant, to justify the use of newly a developed treatment for cancer, to strengthen a business proposal, or to validate points made in a speech.

Because secondary research is used for so many purposes in so many settings, all professionals will be required to perform it at some point in their careers. For managers and entrepreneurs, regardless of the industry or profession, secondary research is a regular part of worklife, although parts of the research, such as finding the supporting documents, are often delegated to juniors in the organization. For all these reasons, it is essential to learn how to conduct secondary research, even if you are unlikely to ever conduct primary research.

Secondary research is also essential if your main goal is primary research. Research funding is obtained only by using secondary research to show the need for the primary research you want to conduct. In fact, primary research depends on secondary research to prove that it is indeed new and original research and not just a rehash or replication of somebody else’s work.

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  • What is Secondary Research? + [Methods & Examples]

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In some situations, the researcher may not be directly involved in the data gathering process and instead, would rely on already existing data in order to arrive at research outcomes. This approach to systematic investigation is known as secondary research. 

There are many reasons a researcher may want to make use of already existing data instead of collecting data samples, first-hand. In this article, we will share some of these reasons with you and show you how to conduct secondary research with Formplus. 

What is Secondary  Research?

Secondary research is a common approach to a systematic investigation in which the researcher depends solely on existing data in the course of the research process. This research design involves organizing, collating and analyzing these data samples for valid research conclusions. 

Secondary research is also known as desk research since it involves synthesizing existing data that can be sourced from the internet, peer-reviewed journals , textbooks, government archives, and libraries. What the secondary researcher does is to study already established patterns in previous researches and apply this information to the specific research context. 

Interestingly, secondary research often relies on data provided by primary research and this is why some researches combine both methods of investigation. In this sense, the researcher begins by evaluating and identifying gaps in existing knowledge before adopting primary research to gather new information that will serve his or her research. 

What are Secondary Research Methods?

As already highlighted, secondary research involves data assimilation from different sources, that is, using available research materials instead of creating a new pool of data using primary research methods. Common secondary research methods include data collection through the internet, libraries, archives, schools and organizational reports. 

  • Online Data

Online data is data that is gathered via the internet. In recent times, this method has become popular because the internet provides a large pool of both free and paid research resources that can be easily accessed with the click of a button. 

While this method simplifies the data gathering process , the researcher must take care to depend solely on authentic sites when collecting information. In some way, the internet is a virtual aggregation for all other sources of secondary research data. 

  • Data from Government and Non-government Archives

You can also gather useful research materials from government and non-government archives and these archives usually contain verifiable information that provides useful insights on varying research contexts. In many cases, you would need to pay a sum to gain access to these data. 

The challenge, however, is that such data is not always readily available due to a number of factors. For instance, some of these materials are described as classified information as such, it would be difficult for researchers to have access to them. 

  • Data from Libraries

Research materials can also be accessed through public and private libraries. Think of a library as an information storehouse that contains an aggregation of important information that can serve as valid data in different research contexts. 

Typically, researchers donate several copies of dissertations to public and private libraries; especially in cases of academic research. Also, business directories, newsletters, annual reports and other similar documents that can serve as research data, are gathered and stored in libraries, in both soft and hard copies. 

  • Data from Institutions of Learning

Educational facilities like schools, faculties, and colleges are also a great source of secondary data; especially in academic research. This is because a lot of research is carried out in educational institutions more than in other sectors. 

It is relatively easier to obtain research data from educational institutions because these institutions are committed to solving problems and expanding the body of knowledge. You can easily request research materials from educational facilities for the purpose of a literature review. 

Secondary research methods can also be categorized into qualitative and quantitative data collection methods . Quantitative data gathering methods include online questionnaires and surveys, reports about trends plus statistics about different areas of a business or industry.  

Qualitative research methods include relying on previous interviews and data gathered through focus groups which helps an organization to understand the needs of its customers and plan to fulfill these needs. It also helps businesses to measure the level of employee satisfaction with organizational policies. 

When Do We Conduct Secondary Research?

Typically, secondary research is the first step in any systematic investigation. This is because it helps the researcher to understand what research efforts have been made so far and to utilize this knowledge in mapping out a novel direction for his or her investigation. 

For instance, you may want to carry out research into the nature of a respiratory condition with the aim of developing a vaccine. The best place to start is to gather existing research material about the condition which would help to point your research in the right direction. 

When sifting through these pieces of information, you would gain insights into methods and findings from previous researches which would help you define your own research process. Secondary research also helps you to identify knowledge gaps that can serve as the name of your own research. 

Questions to ask before conducting Secondary Research

Since secondary research relies on already existing data, the researcher must take extra care to ensure that he or she utilizes authentic data samples for the research. Falsified data can have a negative impact on the research outcomes; hence, it is important to always carry out resource evaluation by asking a number of questions as highlighted below:

  • What is the purpose of the research? Again, it is important for every researcher to clearly define the purpose of the research before proceeding with it. Usually, the research purpose determines the approach that would be adopted. 
  • What is my research methodology? After identifying the purpose of the research, the next thing to do is outline the research methodology. This is the point where the researcher chooses to gather data using secondary research methods. 
  • What are my expected research outcomes? 
  • Who collected the data to be analyzed? Before going on to use secondary data for your research, it is necessary to ascertain the authenticity of the information. This usually affects the data reliability and determines if the researcher can trust the materials.  For instance, data gathered from personal blogs and websites may not be as credible as information obtained from an organization’s website. 
  • When was the data collected? Data recency is another factor that must be considered since the recency of data can affect research outcomes. For instance, if you are carrying out research into the number of women who smoke in London, it would not be appropriate for you to make use of information that was gathered 5 years ago unless you plan to do some sort of data comparison. 
  • Is the data consistent with other data available from other sources? Always compare and contrast your data with other available research materials as this would help you to identify inconsistencies if any.
  • What type of data was collected? Take care to determine if the secondary data aligns with your research goals and objectives. 
  • How was the data collected? 

Advantages of Secondary Research

  • Easily Accessible With secondary research, data can easily be accessed in no time; especially with the use of the internet. Apart from the internet, there are different data sources available in secondary research like public libraries and archives which are relatively easy to access too. 
  • Secondary research is cost-effective and it is not time-consuming. The researcher can cut down on costs because he or she is not directly involved in the data collection process which is also time-consuming. 
  • Secondary research helps researchers to identify knowledge gaps which can serve as the basis of further systematic investigation. 
  • It is useful for mapping out the scope of research thereby setting the stage for field investigations. When carrying out secondary research, the researchers may find that the exact information they were looking for is already available, thus eliminating the need and expense incurred in carrying out primary research in these areas. 

Disadvantages of Secondary Research  

  • Questionable Data: With secondary research, it is hard to determine the authenticity of the data because the researcher is not directly involved in the research process. Invalid data can affect research outcomes negatively hence, it is important for the researcher to take extra care by evaluating the data before making use of it. 
  • Generalization: Secondary data is unspecific in nature and may not directly cater to the needs of the researcher. There may not be correlations between the existing data and the research process. 
  • Common Data: Research materials in secondary research are not exclusive to an individual or group. This means that everyone has access to the data and there is little or no “information advantage” gained by those who obtain the research.
  • It has the risk of outdated research materials. Outdated information may offer little value especially for organizations competing in fast-changing markets.

How to Conduct Online Surveys with Formplus 

Follow these 5 steps to create and administer online surveys for secondary research: 

  • Sign into Formplus

In the Formplus builder, you can easily create an online survey for secondary research by dragging and dropping preferred fields into your form. To access the Formplus builder, you will need to create an account on Formplus. 

Once you do this, sign in to your account and click on “Create Form ” to begin. 

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  • Edit Form Title

secondary-research-survey

Click on the field provided to input your form title, for example, “Secondary Research Survey”.

  • Click on the edit button to edit the form.

secondary-research-survey

  • Add Fields: Drag and drop preferred form fields into your form in the Formplus builder inputs column. There are several field input options for questionnaires in the Formplus builder. 
  • Edit fields
  • Click on “Save”
  • Preview form. 
  • Customize your Form

how to create secondary research

With the form customization options in the form builder, you can easily change the outlook of your form and make it more unique and personalized. Formplus allows you to change your form theme, add background images and even change the font according to your needs. 

  • Multiple Sharing Options

how to create secondary research

Formplus offers multiple form sharing options which enables you to easily share your questionnaire with respondents. You can use the direct social media sharing buttons to share your form link to your organization’s social media pages. 

You can send out your survey form as email invitations to your research subjects too. If you wish, you can share your form’s QR code or embed it on your organization’s website for easy access. 

Why Use Formplus as a Secondary Research Tool?

  • Simple Form Builder Solution

The Formplus form builder is easy to use and does not require you to have any knowledge in computer programming, unlike other form builders. For instance, you can easily add form fields to your form by dragging and dropping them from the inputs section in the builder. 

In the form builder, you can also modify your fields to be hidden or read-only and you can create smart forms with save and resume options, form lookup, and conditional logic. Formplus also allows you to customize your form by adding preferred background images and your organization’s logo. 

  • Over 25 Form Fields

With over 25 versatile form fields available in the form builder, you can easily collect data the way you like. You can receive payments directly in your form by adding payment fields and you can also add file upload fields to allow you receive files in your form too. 

  • Offline Form feature

With Formplus, you can collect data from respondents even without internet connectivity . Formplus automatically detects when there is no or poor internet access and allows forms to be filled out and submitted in offline mode. 

Offline form responses are automatically synced with the servers when the internet connection is restored. This feature is extremely useful for field research that may involve sourcing for data in remote and rural areas plus it allows you to scale up on your audience reach. 

  • Team and Collaboration

 You can add important collaborators and team members to your shared account so that you all can work on forms and responses together. With the multiple users options, you can assign different roles to team members and you can also grant and limit access to forms and folders. 

This feature works with an audit trail that enables you to track changes and suggestions made to your form as the administrator of the shared account. You can set up permissions to limit access to the account while organizing and monitoring your form(s) effectively. 

  • Embeddable Form

Formplus allows you to easily add your form with respondents with the click of a button. For instance, you can directly embed your form in your organization’s web pages by adding Its unique shortcode to your site’s HTML. 

You can also share your form to your social media pages using the social media direct sharing buttons available in the form builder. You can choose to embed the form as an iframe or web pop-up that is easy to fill. 

With Formplus, you can share your form with numerous form respondents in no time. You can invite respondents to fill out your form via email invitation which allows you to also track responses and prevent multiple submissions in your form. 

In addition, you can also share your form link as a QR code so that respondents only need to scan the code to access your form. Our forms have a unique QR code that you can add to your website or print in banners, business cards and the like. 

While secondary research can be cost-effective and time-efficient, it requires the researcher to take extra care in ensuring that the data is authentic and valid. As highlighted earlier, data in secondary research can be sourced through the internet, archives, and libraries, amongst other methods. 

Secondary research is usually the starting point of systematic investigation because it provides the researcher with a background of existing research efforts while identifying knowledge gaps to be filled. This type of research is typically used in science and education. 

It is, however, important to note that secondary research relies on the outcomes of collective primary research data in carrying out its systematic investigation. Hence, the success of your research will depend, to a greater extent, on the quality of data provided by primary research in relation to the research context.

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Secondary Research Advantages, Limitations, and Sources

Summary: secondary research should be a prerequisite to the collection of primary data, but it rarely provides all the answers you need. a thorough evaluation of the secondary data is needed to assess its relevance and accuracy..

5 minutes to read. By author Michaela Mora on January 25, 2022 Topics: Relevant Methods & Tips , Business Strategy , Market Research

Secondary Research

Secondary research is based on data already collected for purposes other than the specific problem you have. Secondary research is usually part of exploratory market research designs.

The connection between the specific purpose that originates the research is what differentiates secondary research from primary research. Primary research is designed to address specific problems. However, analysis of available secondary data should be a prerequisite to the collection of primary data.

Advantages of Secondary Research

Secondary data can be faster and cheaper to obtain, depending on the sources you use.

Secondary research can help to:

  • Answer certain research questions and test some hypotheses.
  • Formulate an appropriate research design (e.g., identify key variables).
  • Interpret data from primary research as it can provide some insights into general trends in an industry or product category.
  • Understand the competitive landscape.

Limitations of Secondary Research

The usefulness of secondary research tends to be limited often for two main reasons:

Lack of relevance

Secondary research rarely provides all the answers you need. The objectives and methodology used to collect the secondary data may not be appropriate for the problem at hand.

Given that it was designed to find answers to a different problem than yours, you will likely find gaps in answers to your problem. Furthermore, the data collection methods used may not provide the data type needed to support the business decisions you have to make (e.g., qualitative research methods are not appropriate for go/no-go decisions).

Lack of Accuracy

Secondary data may be incomplete and lack accuracy depending on;

  • The research design (exploratory, descriptive, causal, primary vs. repackaged secondary data, the analytical plan, etc.)
  • Sampling design and sources (target audiences, recruitment methods)
  • Data collection method (qualitative and quantitative techniques)
  • Analysis point of view (focus and omissions)
  • Reporting stages (preliminary, final, peer-reviewed)
  • Rate of change in the studied topic (slowly vs. rapidly evolving phenomenon, e.g., adoption of specific technologies).
  • Lack of agreement between data sources.

Criteria for Evaluating Secondary Research Data

Before taking the information at face value, you should conduct a thorough evaluation of the secondary data you find using the following criteria:

  • Purpose : Understanding why the data was collected and what questions it was trying to answer will tell us how relevant and useful it is since it may or may not be appropriate for your objectives.
  • Methodology used to collect the data : Important to understand sources of bias.
  • Accuracy of data: Sources of errors may include research design, sampling, data collection, analysis, and reporting.
  • When the data was collected : Secondary data may not be current or updated frequently enough for the purpose that you need.
  • Content of the data : Understanding the key variables, units of measurement, categories used and analyzed relationships may reveal how useful and relevant it is for your purposes.
  • Source reputation : In the era of purposeful misinformation on the Internet, it is important to check the expertise, credibility, reputation, and trustworthiness of the data source.

Secondary Research Data Sources

Compared to primary research, the collection of secondary data can be faster and cheaper to obtain, depending on the sources you use.

Secondary data can come from internal or external sources.

Internal sources of secondary data include ready-to-use data or data that requires further processing available in internal management support systems your company may be using (e.g., invoices, sales transactions, Google Analytics for your website, etc.).

Prior primary qualitative and quantitative research conducted by the company are also common sources of secondary data. They often generate more questions and help formulate new primary research needed.

However, if there are no internal data collection systems yet or prior research, you probably won’t have much usable secondary data at your disposal.

External sources of secondary data include:

  • Published materials
  • External databases
  • Syndicated services.

Published Materials

Published materials can be classified as:

  • General business sources: Guides, directories, indexes, and statistical data.
  • Government sources: Census data and other government publications.

External Databases

In many industries across a variety of topics, there are private and public databases that can bed accessed online or by downloading data for free, a fixed fee, or a subscription.

These databases can include bibliographic, numeric, full-text, directory, and special-purpose databases. Some public institutions make data collected through various methods, including surveys, available for others to analyze.

Syndicated Services

These services are offered by companies that collect and sell pools of data that have a commercial value and meet shared needs by a number of clients, even if the data is not collected for specific purposes those clients may have.

Syndicated services can be classified based on specific units of measurements (e.g., consumers, households, organizations, etc.).

The data collection methods for these data may include:

  • Surveys (Psychographic and Lifestyle, advertising evaluations, general topics)
  • Household panels (Purchase and media use)
  • Electronic scanner services (volume tracking data, scanner panels, scanner panels with Cable TV)
  • Audits (retailers, wholesalers)
  • Direct inquiries to institutions
  • Clipping services tracking PR for institutions
  • Corporate reports

You can spend hours doing research on Google in search of external sources, but this is likely to yield limited insights. Books, articles journals, reports, blogs posts, and videos you may find online are usually analyses and summaries of data from a particular perspective. They may be useful and give you an indication of the type of data used, but they are not the actual data. Whenever possible, you should look at the actual raw data used to draw your own conclusion on its value for your research objectives. You should check professionally gathered secondary research.

Here are some external secondary data sources often used in market research that you may find useful as starting points in your research. Some are free, while others require payment.

  • Pew Research Center : Reports about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis, and other empirical social science research.
  • Data.Census.gov : Data dissemination platform to access demographic and economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Data.gov : The US. government’s open data source with almost 200,00 datasets ranges in topics from health, agriculture, climate, ecosystems, public safety, finance, energy, manufacturing, education, and business.
  • Google Scholar : A web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines.
  • Google Public Data Explorer : Makes large, public-interest datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate.
  • Google News Archive : Allows users to search historical newspapers and retrieve scanned images of their pages.
  • Mckinsey & Company : Articles based on analyses of various industries.
  • Statista : Business data platform with data across 170+ industries and 150+ countries.
  • Claritas : Syndicated reports on various market segments.
  • Mintel : Consumer reports combining exclusive consumer research with other market data and expert analysis.
  • MarketResearch.com : Data aggregator with over 350 publishers covering every sector of the economy as well as emerging industries.
  • Packaged Facts : Reports based on market research on consumer goods and services industries.
  • Dun & Bradstreet : Company directory with business information.

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Secondary Analysis Research

In secondary data analysis (SDA) studies, investigators use data collected by other researchers to address different questions. Like primary data researchers, SDA investigators must be knowledgeable about their research area to identify datasets that are a good fit for an SDA. Several sources of datasets may be useful for SDA, and examples of some of these will be discussed. Advanced practice providers must be aware of possible advantages, such as economic savings, the ability to examine clinically significant research questions in large datasets that may have been collected over time (longitudinal data), generating new hypotheses or clarifying research questions, and avoiding overburdening sensitive populations or investigating sensitive areas. When reading an SDA report, the reader should be able to determine that the authors identified the limitation or disadvantages of their research. For example, a primary dataset cannot “fit” an SDA researcher’s study exactly, SDAs are inherently limited by the inability to definitively examine causality given their retrospective nature, and data may be too old to address current issues.

Secondary analysis of data collected by another researcher for a different purpose, or SDA, is increasing in the medical and social sciences. This is not surprising, given the immense body of health care–related research performed worldwide and the potential beneficial clinical implications of the timely expansion of primary research ( Johnston, 2014 ; Tripathy, 2013 ). Oncology advanced practitioners should understand why and how SDA studies are done, their potential advantages and disadvantages, as well as the importance of reading primary and secondary analysis research reports with the same discriminatory, evaluative eye for possible applicability to their practice setting.

To perform a primary research study, an investigator identifies a problem or question in a particular population that is amenable to the study, designs a research project to address that question, decides on a quantitative or qualitative methodology, determines an adequate sample size and recruits representative subjects, and systematically collects and analyzes data to address specific research questions. On the other hand, an SDA addresses new questions from that dataset previously gathered for a different primary study ( Castle, 2003 ). This might sound “easier,” but investigators who carry out SDA research must have a broad knowledge base and be up to date regarding the state of the science in their area of interest to identify important research questions, find appropriate datasets, and apply the same research principles as primary researchers.

Most SDAs use quantitative data, but some qualitative studies lend themselves to SDA. The researcher must have access to source data, as opposed to secondary source data (e.g., a medical record review). Original qualitative data sources could be videotaped or audiotaped interviews or transcripts, or other notes from a qualitative study ( Rew, Koniak-Griffin, Lewis, Miles, & O’Sullivan, 2000 ). Another possible source for qualitative analysis is open-ended survey questions that reflect greater meaning than forced-response items.

SECONDARY ANALYSIS PROCESS

An SDA researcher starts with a research question or hypothesis, then identifies an appropriate dataset or sets to address it; alternatively, they are familiar with a dataset and peruse it to identify other questions that might be answered by the available data ( Cheng & Phillips, 2014 ). In reality, SDA researchers probably move back and forth between these approaches. For example, an investigator who starts with a research question but does not find a dataset with all needed variables usually must modify the research question(s) based on the best available data.

Secondary data analysis researchers access primary data via formal (public or institutional archived primary research datasets) or informal data sharing sources (pooled datasets separately collected by two or more researchers, or other independent researchers in carrying out secondary analysis; Heaton, 2008 ). There are numerous sources of datasets for secondary analysis. For example, a graduate student might opt to perform a secondary analysis of an advisor’s research. University and government online sites may also be useful, such as the NYU Libraries Data Sources ( https://guides.nyu.edu/c.php?g=276966&p=1848686 ) or the National Cancer Institute, which has many subcategories of datasets ( https://www.cancer.gov/research/resources/search?from=0&toolTypes=datasets_databases ). The Google search engine is useful, and researchers can enter the search term “Archive sources of datasets (add key words related to oncology).”

In one secondary analysis method, researchers reuse their own data—either a single dataset or combined respective datasets to investigate new or additional questions for a new SDA.

Example of a Secondary Data Analysis

An example highlighting this method of reusing one’s own data is Winters-Stone and colleagues’ SDA of data from four previous primary studies they performed at one institution, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) in 2017. Their pooled sample was 512 breast cancer survivors (age 63 ± 6 years) who had been diagnosed and treated for nonmetastatic breast cancer 5.8 years (± 4.1 years) earlier. The investigators divided the cohort, which had no diagnosed neurologic conditions, into two groups: women who reported symptoms consistent with lower-extremity chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN; numbness, tingling, or discomfort in feet) vs. CIPN-negative women who did not have symptoms. The objectives of the study were to define patient-reported prevalence of CIPN symptoms in women who had received chemotherapy, compare objective and subjective measures of CIPN in these cancer survivors, and examine the relationship between CIPN symptom severity and outcomes. Objective and subjective measures were used to compare groups for manifestations influenced by CIPN (physical function, disability, and falls). Actual chemotherapy regimens administered had not been documented (a study limitation, but regimens likely included a taxane that is neurotoxic); therefore, investigators could only confirm that symptoms began during chemotherapy and how severely patients rated symptoms.

Up to 10 years after completing chemotherapy, 47% of women who had received chemotherapy were still having significant and potentially life-threatening sensory symptoms consistent with CIPN, did worse on physical function tests, reported poorer functioning, had greater disability, and had nearly twice the rate of falls compared with CIPN-negative women ( Winters-Stone et al., 2017 ). Furthermore, symptom severity was related to worse outcomes, while worsening cancer was not.

Stout (2017) recognized the importance of this secondary analysis in an accompanying editorial published in JCO, remarking that it was the first study that included both patient-reported subjective measures and objective measures of a clinically significant problem. Winter-Stone and others (2017) recognized that by analyzing what essentially became a large sample, they were able to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of the significance and impact of CIPN, and thus to challenge the notion that while CIPN may improve over time, it remains a major cancer survivorship issue. Thus, oncology advanced practitioners must systematically address CIPN at baseline and over time in vulnerable patients, and collaborate with others to implement potentially helpful interventions such as physical and occupational therapy ( Silver & Gilchrist, 2011 ). Other primary or secondary research projects might focus on the usefulness of such interventions.

ADVANTAGES OF SECONDARY DATA ANALYSIS

The advantages of doing SDA research that are cited most often are the economic savings—in time, money, and labor—and the convenience of using existing data rather than collecting primary data, which is usually the most time-consuming and expensive aspect of research ( Johnston, 2014 ; Rew et al., 2000 ; Tripathy, 2013 ). If there is a cost to access datasets, it is usually small (compared to performing the data collection oneself), and detailed information about data collection and statistician support may also be available ( Cheng & Phillips, 2014 ). Secondary data analysis may help a new investigator increase his/her clinical research expertise and avoid data collection challenges (e.g., recruiting study participants, obtaining large-enough sample sizes to yield convincing results, avoiding study dropout, and completing data collection within a reasonable time). Secondary data analyses may also allow for examining more variables than would be feasible in smaller studies, surveys of more diverse samples, and the ability to rethink data and use more advanced statistical techniques in analysis ( Rew et al., 2000 ).

Secondary Data Analysis to Answer Additional Research Questions

Another advantage is that an SDA of a large dataset, possibly combining data from more than one study or by using longitudinal data, can address high-impact, clinically important research questions that might be prohibitively expensive or time-consuming for primary study, and potentially generate new hypotheses ( Smith et al., 2011 ; Tripathy, 2013 ). Schadendorf and others (2015) did one such SDA: a pooled analysis of 12 phase II and phase III studies of ipilimumab (Yervoy) for patients with metastatic melanoma. The study goal was to more accurately estimate the long-term survival benefit of ipilimumab every 3 weeks for greater than or equal to 4 doses in 1,861 patients with advanced melanoma, two thirds of whom had been previously treated and one third who were treatment naive. Almost 89% of patients had received ipilimumab at 3 mg/kg (n = 965), 10 mg/kg (n = 706), or other doses, and about 54% had been followed for longer than 5 years. Across all studies, overall survival curves plateaued between 2 and 3 years, suggesting a durable survival benefit for some patients.

Irrespective of prior therapy, ipilimumab dose, or treatment regimen, median overall survival was 13.5 months in treatment naive patients and 10.7 months in previously treated patients ( Schadendorf et al., 2015 ). In addition, survival curves consistently plateaued at approximately year 3 and continued for up to 10 years (longest follow-up). This suggested that most of the 20% to 26% of patients who reached the plateau had a low risk of death from melanoma thereafter. The authors viewed these results as “encouraging,” given the historic median overall survival in patients with advanced melanoma of 8 to 10 months and 5-year survival of approximately 10%. They identified limitations of their SDA (discussed later in this article). Three-year survival was numerically (but not statistically significantly) greater for the patients who received ipilimumab at 10 mg/kg than at 3 mg/kg doses, which had been noted in one of the included studies.

The importance of this secondary analysis was clearly relevant to prescribers of anticancer therapies, and led to a subsequent phase III trial in the same population to answer the ipilimumab dose question. Ascierto and colleagues’ (2017) study confirmed ipilimumab at 10 mg/kg led to a significantly longer overall survival than at 3 mg/kg (15.7 months vs. 11.5 months) in a subgroup of patients not previously treated with a BRAF inhibitor or immune checkpoint inhibitor. However, this was attained at the cost of greater treatment-related adverse events and more frequent discontinuation secondary to severe ipilimumab-related adverse events. Both would be critical points for advanced practitioners to discuss with patients and to consider in relationship to the particular patient’s ability to tolerate a given regimen.

Secondary Data Analysis to Avoid Study Repetition and Over-Research

Secondary data analysis research also avoids study repetition and over-research of sensitive topics or populations ( Tripathy, 2013 ). For example, people treated for cancer in the United Kingdom are surveyed annually through the National Cancer Patient Experience Survey (NCPES), and questions regarding sexual orientation were first included in the 2013 NCPES. Hulbert-Williams and colleagues (2017) did a more rigorous SDA of this survey to gain an understanding of how lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) patients’ experiences with cancer differed from heterosexual patients.

Sixty-four percent of those surveyed responded (n = 68,737) to the question regarding their “best description of sexual orientation.” 89.3% indicated “heterosexual/straight,” 425 (0.6%) indicated “lesbian or gay,” and 143 (0.2%) indicated “bisexual.” One insight gained from the study was that although the true population proportion of LGB was not known, the small number of self-identified LGB patients most likely did not reflect actual numbers and may have occurred because of ongoing unwillingness to disclose sexual orientation, along with the older mean age of the sample. Other cancer patients who selected “prefer not to answer” (3%), “other” (0.9%), or left the question blank (6%), were not included in the SDA to correctly avoid bias in assuming these responses were related to sexual orientation.

Bisexual respondents were significantly more likely to report that nurses or other health-care professionals informed them about their diagnosis, but that it was subsequently difficult to contact nurse specialists and get understandable answers from them; they were dissatisfied with their interaction with hospital nurses and the care and help provided by both health and social care services after leaving the hospital. Bisexual and lesbian/gay respondents wanted to be involved in treatment decision-making, but therapy choices were not discussed with them, and they were all less satisfied than heterosexuals with the information given to them at diagnosis and during treatment and aftercare—an important clinical implication for oncology advanced practitioners.

Hulbert-Williams and colleagues (2017) proposed that while health-care communication and information resources are not explicitly homophobic, we may perpetuate heterosexuality as “normal” by conversational cues and reliance on heterosexual imagery that implies a context exclusionary of LGB individuals. Sexual orientation equality is about matching care to individual needs for all patients regardless of sexual orientation rather than treating everyone the same way, which does not seem to have happened according to the surveyed respondents’ perceptions. In addition, although LGB respondents replied they did not have or chose to exclude significant others from their cancer experience, there was no survey question that clarified their primary relationship status. This is not a unique strategy for persons with cancer, as LGB individuals may do this to protect family and friends from the negative consequences of homophobia.

Hulbert-Williams and others (2017) identified that this dataset might be useful to identify care needs for patients who identify as LGBT or LGBTQ (queer or questioning; no universally used acronym) and be used to obtain more targeted information from subsequent surveys. There is a relatively small body of data for advanced practitioners and other providers that aid in the assessment and care (including supportive, palliative, and survivorship care) of LGBT individuals—a minority group with many subpopulations that may have unique needs. One such effort is the white paper action plan that came out of the first summit on cancer in the LGBT communities. In 2014, participants from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada met to identify LGBT communities’ concerns and needs for cancer research, clinical cancer care, health-care policy, and advocacy for cancer survivorship and LGBT health equity ( Burkhalter et al., 2016 ).

More specifically, Healthy People 2020 now includes two objectives regarding LGBT issues: (1) to increase the number of population-based data systems used to monitor Healthy People 2020 objectives, including a standardized set of questions that identify lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations; and (2) to increase the number of states and territories that include questions that identify sexual orientation and gender identity on state-level surveys or data systems ( Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2019 ). We should help each patient to designate significant others’ (family or friends) degree of involvement in care, while recognizing that LGB patients may exclude their significant others if this process involves disclosing sexual orientation, as this may lead to continued social isolation of cancer patients. This SDA by Hulbert-Williams and colleagues (2017) produced findings in a relatively unexplored area of the overall care experiences of LGB patients.

DISADVANTAGES OF SECONDARY DATA ANALYSIS

Many drawbacks of SDA research center around the fact that a primary investigator collected data reflecting his/her unique perspectives and questions, which may not fit an SDA researcher’s questions ( Rew et al., 2000 ). Secondary data analysis researchers have no control over a desired study population, variables of interest, and study design, and probably did not have a role in collecting the primary data ( Castle, 2003 ; Johnston, 2014 ; Smith et al., 2011 ).

Furthermore, the primary data may not include particular demographic information (e.g., respondent zip codes, race, ethnicity, and specific ages) that were deleted to protect respondent confidentiality, or some other different variables that might be important in the SDA may not have been examined at all ( Cheng & Phillips, 2014 ; Johnston, 2014 ). Although primary data collection takes longer than SDA data collection, identifying and procuring suitable SDA data, analyzing the overall quality of the data, determining any limitations inherent in the original study, and determining whether there is an appropriate fit between the purpose of the original study and the purpose of the SDA can be very time consuming ( Castle, 2003 ; Cheng & Phillips, 2014 ; Rew et al., 2000 ).

Secondary data analysis research may be limited to descriptive, exploratory, and correlational designs and nonparametric statistical tests. By their nature, SDA studies are observational and retrospective, and the investigator cannot examine causal relationships (by a randomized, controlled design). An SDA investigator is challenged to decide whether archival data can be shaped to match new research questions; this means the researcher must have an in-depth understanding of the dataset and know how to alter research questions to match available data and recoded variables.

For example, in their pooled analysis of ipilimumab for advanced melanoma, Schadendorf and colleagues (2015) recognized study limitations that might also be disadvantages of other SDAs. These included the fact that they could not make definitive conclusions about the relationship of survival to ipilimumab dose because the study was not randomized, had no control group, and could not account for key baseline prognostic factors. Other limitations were differences in patient populations in several studies included in the SDA, studies that had been done over 10 years ago (although no other new therapies had improved overall survival during that time), and the fact that treatments received after ipilimumab could have affected overall survival.

READING SECONDARY ANALYSIS RESEARCH

Primary and secondary data investigators apply the same research principles, which should be evident in research reports ( Cheng & Phillips, 2014 ; Hulbert-Williams et al., 2017 ; Johnston, 2014 ; Rew et al., 2000 ; Smith et al., 2011 ; Tripathy, 2013 ).

  • ● Did the investigator(s) make a logical and convincing case for the importance of their study?
  • ● Is there a clear research question and/or study goals or objectives?
  • ● Are there operational definitions for the variables of interest?
  • ● Did the authors acknowledge the source of the original data and acquire ethical approval (as necessary)?
  • ● Did the authors discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the dataset? For example, how old are the data? Is the dataset sufficiently large to have confidence in the results (adequately powered)?
  • ● How well do the data seem to “fit” the SDA research question and design?
  • ● Does the methods section allow you, the reader, to “see” how the study was done (e.g., how the sample was selected, the tools/instruments that were used, as well their validity and reliability to measure what was intended, the data collection process, and how the data was analyzed)?
  • ● Do the findings, discussion, and conclusions—positive or negative—allow you to answer the “So what?” question, and does your evaluation match the investigator’s conclusion?

Answering these questions allows the advanced practice provider reader to assess the possible value of a secondary analysis (similarly to a primary research) report and its applicability to practice, and to identify further issues or areas for scientific inquiry.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose.

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Secondary research in ux.

how to create secondary research

February 20, 2022 2022-02-20

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You don’t have to do all the user-research work yourself. If somebody else already ran a study (and published it), grab it!

Have you ever completed a project only to find out that something very similar has already been done in your organization a couple of years ago? That situation is common, especially with rising employee-churn rates, and fueled the popularity of research repositories (e.g., Microsoft Human Insights System) and the growth of the  research-operations community . It should also inspire practitioners to do more secondary research.

Secondary research,  also known as desk research or, in academic contexts, literature review, refers to the act of gathering prior research findings and other relevant information related to a new project. It is a foundational part of any emerging research project and provides the project with background and context. Secondary research allows us to stand on the shoulders of giants and not to reinvent the wheel every time we initiate a new program or plan a study.

This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to conduct secondary research in UX. The key takeaway is that this type of research is not solely an intellectual exercise, but a way to minimize research costs, win internal stakeholders and get scaffolding for your own projects.

Academic publications include a literature review at the beginning to showcase context or known gaps and to justify the motivation for the research questions. However, the task of incorporating previous results is becoming more and more challenging with a growing number of publications in all fields. Therefore, practitioners across disciplines (for instance in eHealth, business, education, and technology) develop method guidelines for secondary research.  

In This Article:

When to conduct secondary research, types of secondary research, how to conduct secondary research.

Secondary research should be a standard first step in any rigorous research practice, but it’s also often cost-effective in more casual settings. Whether you are just starting a new project, joining an existing one, or planning a primary research effort for your team, it is always good to start with a broad overview of the field and existent resources. That would allow you to synthesize findings and uncover areas where more research is needed. 

Secondary research shows which topics are particularly popular or important for your organization and what problems other researchers are trying to solve. This research method is widely discussed in library and information sciences but is often neglected in UX. Nonetheless, secondary research can be useful to uncover industry trends and to inspire further studies. For example, Jessica Pater and her colleagues looked at the foundational question of participant compensation in user studies. They could have opted for user interviews or a costly large-scale survey, yet through secondary research, they were able to review 2250 unique user studies across 1662 manuscripts published in 2018-2019. They found inconsistencies in participant compensation and suggested changes to the current practices and further research opportunities.

Secondary research can be divided into two main types:  internal  and  external research.

Internal secondary research  involves gathering all relevant research findings already available in your organization. These might include artifacts from the past primary research projects, maps (e.g.,  customer-journey map ,  service blueprint ), deliverables from external consultants, or results from different kinds of  workshops  (e.g., discovery, design thinking, etc.). Hopefully, these will be available in a  research repository . 

External secondary research  is focused on sources outside of your organization, such as academic journals, public libraries, open data repositories, internet searches, and white papers published by reputable organizations. For example, external resources for the field of human-computer interaction (HCI) can be found at the  Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) digital library ,  Journal of Usability Studies (JUS ), or research websites like  ours . University libraries and labs like  UCSD Geisel Library ,  Carnegie Mellon University Libraries ,  MIT D-Lab ,  Stanford d.school , and specialized portals like  Google Scholar  offer another avenue for directed search. 

Our goal is to have the necessary depth, rigor, and usefulness for practitioners. Here are the 4 steps for conducting secondary research:

  • Choose the topic of research & write a  problem statement . 

Write a concise description of the problem to be solved. For example, if you are doing a website redesign, you might want to both learn the current standards and look at all the previous design iterations to avoid issues that your team already identified.

  • Identi fy external and internal resources.

Peer-reviewed publications (such as those published in academic journals and conferences) are a fairly reliable source. They always include a section describing methods, data-collection techniques, and study limitations. If a study you plan to use does not include such information, that might be a red flag and a reason to further scrutinize that source. Public datasets also often present some challenges because of errors and inclusion criteria, especially if they were collected for another purpose. 

One should be cautious of the seemingly reputable “research” findings published across different websites in a form of blog posts, which could be opinion pieces, not backed up by primary research. If you encounter such a piece, ask yourself — is the conclusion of the writeup based on a real study? If the study was quantitative, was it properly analyzed (e.g., at the very least, are  confidence intervals  reported, and was  statistical significance  evaluated?). For all studies, was the method sound and nonbiased (e.g., did the study have  internal and external validity )?

A more nuanced challenge involves evaluating findings based on a different audience, which might not be always generalizable to your situation, but may form hypotheses worthy of investigating. For example, if a design pattern is found okay to use by young adults, you may still want to know if this finding will also be valid for older generations.

  • Collect and analyze data from external and internal resources.

Remember that secondary research involves both the existing data and existing research. Both of those categories become helpful resources when they are critically evaluated for any inherent biases, omissions, and limitations. If you already have some secondary data in your organization, such as customer service logs or search logs, you should include them in secondary research alongside any existent analysis of such logs and previous reports. It is helpful to revisit previous findings, compare how they have or have not been implemented to refresh institutional memory and support future research initiatives.

  • Refine your problem statement and determine what still needs to be investigated.

Once you collected the relevant information, write a summary of findings, and discuss them with your team. You might need to refine your problem statement to determine what information you still need to answer your research questions. Next time your team is planning to adopt a trendy new design pattern, it may be a good idea to go back and search the web or an academic database for any evaluations of that pattern.

It is important to note that secondary research is not a substitute for primary research. It is always better to do both. Although secondary research is often cost-effective and quick, its quality depends to a large extent on the quality of your sources. Therefore, before using any secondary sources, you need to identify their validity and limitations. 

Secondary (or desk) research involves gathering existing data from inside and outside of your organization. A literature review should be done more frequently in UX because it is a viable option even for researchers with limited time and budget. The most challenging part is to persuade yourself and your team that the existing data is worth being summarized, compared, and collated to increase the overall effectiveness of your primary research. 

Jessica Pater, Amanda Coupe, Rachel Pfafman, Chanda Phelan, Tammy Toscos, and Maia Jacobs. 2021. Standardizing Reporting of Participant Compensation in HCI: A Systematic Literature Review and Recommendations for the Field. In  Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.  Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 141, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445734

Hannah Snyder. 2019. Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines.  Journal of business research  104, 333-339. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2019.07.039. 

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how to create secondary research

How to do your dissertation secondary research in 4 steps

(Last updated: 12 May 2021)

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We have helped 10,000s of undergraduate, Masters and PhD students to maximise their grades in essays, dissertations, model-exam answers, applications and other materials. If you would like a free chat about your project with one of our UK staff, then please just reach out on one of the methods below.

If you are reading this guide, it's very likely you may be doing secondary research for your dissertation, rather than primary. If this is indeed you, then here's the good news: secondary research is the easiest type of research! Congratulations!

In a nutshell, secondary research is far more simple. So simple, in fact, that we have been able to explain how to do it completely in just 4 steps (see below). If nothing else, secondary research avoids the all-so-tiring efforts usually involved with primary research. Like recruiting your participants, choosing and preparing your measures, and spending days (or months) collecting your data.

That said, you do still need to know how to do secondary research. Which is what you're here for. So, go make a decent-sized mug of your favourite hot beverage (consider a glass of water , too) then come back and get comfy.

Here's what we'll cover in this guide:

The basics: What's secondary research all about?

Understanding secondary research, advantages of secondary research, disadvantages of secondary research, methods and purposes of secondary research, types of secondary data, sources of secondary data, secondary research process in 4 steps, step 1: develop your research question(s), step 2: identify a secondary data set, step 3: evaluate a secondary data set, step 4: prepare and analyse secondary data.

To answer this question, let’s first recall what we mean by primary research . As you probably already know, primary research is when the researcher collects the data himself or herself. The researcher uses so-called “real-time” data, which means that the data is collected during the course of a specific research project and is under the researcher’s direct control.

In contrast, secondary research involves data that has been collected by somebody else previously. This type of data is called “past data” and is usually accessible via past researchers, government records, and various online and offline resources.

So to recap, secondary research involves re-analysing, interpreting, or reviewing past data. The role of the researcher is always to specify how this past data informs his or her current research.

In contrast to primary research, secondary research is easier, particularly because the researcher is less involved with the actual process of collecting the data. Furthermore, secondary research requires less time and less money (i.e., you don’t need to provide your participants with compensation for participating or pay for any other costs of the research).

Comparison basis PRIMARY RESEARCH SECONDARY RESEARCH
Definition Involves collecting factual,
first-hand data at the time
of the research project
Involves the use of data that
was collected by somebody else
in the past
Type of data Real-time data Past data
Conducted by The researcher himself/herself Somebody else
Needs Addresses specific needs
of the researcher
May not directly address
the researcher’s needs
Involvement Researcher is very involved Researcher is less involved
Completion time Long Short
Cost High

Low

One of the most obvious advantages is that, compared to primary research, secondary research is inexpensive . Primary research usually requires spending a lot of money. For instance, members of the research team should be paid salaries. There are often travel and transportation costs. You may need to pay for office space and equipment, and compensate your participants for taking part. There may be other overhead costs too.

These costs do not exist when doing secondary research. Although researchers may need to purchase secondary data sets, this is always less costly than if the research were to be conducted from scratch.

As an undergraduate or graduate student, your dissertation project won't need to be an expensive endeavour. Thus, it is useful to know that you can further reduce costs, by using freely available secondary data sets.

But this is far from the only consideration.

Most students value another important advantage of secondary research, which is that secondary research saves you time . Primary research usually requires months spent recruiting participants, providing them with questionnaires, interviews, or other measures, cleaning the data set, and analysing the results. With secondary research, you can skip most of these daunting tasks; instead, you merely need to select, prepare, and analyse an existing data set.

Moreover, you probably won’t need a lot of time to obtain your secondary data set, because secondary data is usually easily accessible . In the past, students needed to go to libraries and spend hours trying to find a suitable data set. New technologies make this process much less time-consuming. In most cases, you can find your secondary data through online search engines or by contacting previous researchers via email.

A third important advantage of secondary research is that you can base your project on a large scope of data . If you wanted to obtain a large data set yourself, you would need to dedicate an immense amount of effort. What's more, if you were doing primary research, you would never be able to use longitudinal data in your graduate or undergraduate project, since it would take you years to complete. This is because longitudinal data involves assessing and re-assessing a group of participants over long periods of time.

When using secondary data, however, you have an opportunity to work with immensely large data sets that somebody else has already collected. Thus, you can also deal with longitudinal data, which may allow you to explore trends and changes of phenomena over time.

With secondary research, you are relying not only on a large scope of data, but also on professionally collected data . This is yet another advantage of secondary research. For instance, data that you will use for your secondary research project has been collected by researchers who are likely to have had years of experience in recruiting representative participant samples, designing studies, and using specific measurement tools.

If you had collected this data yourself, your own data set would probably have more flaws, simply because of your lower level of expertise when compared to these professional researchers.

The first such disadvantage is that your secondary data may be, to a greater or lesser extent, inappropriate for your own research purposes. This is simply because you have not collected the data yourself.

When you collect your data personally, you do so with a specific research question in mind. This makes it easy to obtain the relevant information. However, secondary data was always collected for the purposes of fulfilling other researchers’ goals and objectives.

Thus, although secondary data may provide you with a large scope of professionally collected data, this data is unlikely to be fully appropriate to your own research question. There are several reasons for this. For instance, you may be interested in the data of a particular population, in a specific geographic region, and collected during a specific time frame. However, your secondary data may have focused on a slightly different population, may have been collected in a different geographical region, or may have been collected a long time ago.

Apart from being potentially inappropriate for your own research purposes, secondary data could have a different format than you require. For instance, you might have preferred participants’ age to be in the form of a continuous variable (i.e., you want your participants to have indicated their specific age). But the secondary data set may contain a categorical age variable; for example, participants might have indicated an age group they belong to (e.g., 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, etc.). Or another example: A secondary data set may contain too few ethnic categories (e.g., “White” and “Other”), while you would ideally want a wider range of racial categories (e.g., “White”, “Black or African American”, “American Indian”, and “Asian”). Differences such as these mean that secondary data may not be perfectly appropriate for your research.

The above two disadvantages may lead to yet another one: the existing data set may not answer your own research question(s) in an ideal way. As noted above, secondary data was collected with a different research question in mind, and this may limit its application to your own research purpose.

Unfortunately, the list of disadvantages does not end here. An additional weakness of secondary data is that you have a lack of control over the quality of data. All researchers need to establish that their data is reliable and valid. But if the original researchers did not establish the reliability and validity of their data, this may limit its reliability and validity for your research as well. To establish reliability and validity, you are usually advised to critically evaluate how the data was gathered, analysed, and presented.

But here lies the final disadvantage of doing secondary research: original researchers may fail to provide sufficient information on how their research was conducted. You might be faced with a lack of information on recruitment procedures, sample representativeness, data collection methods, employed measurement tools and statistical analyses, and the like. This may require you to take extra steps to obtain such information, if that is possible at all.

ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
Inexpensive: Conducting secondary research is much cheaper than doing primary research Inappropriateness: Secondary data may not be fully appropriate for your research purposes
Saves time: Secondary research takes much less time than primary research Wrong format: Secondary data may have a different format than you require
Accessibility: Secondary data is usually easily accessible from online sources. May not answer your research question: Secondary data was collected with a different research question in mind
Large scope of data: You can rely on immensely large data sets that somebody else has collected Lack of control over the quality of data: Secondary data may lack reliability and validity, which is beyond your control
Professionally collected data: Secondary data has been collected by researchers with years of experience

Lack of sufficient information: Original authors may not have provided sufficient information on various research aspects

how to create secondary research

At this point, we should ask: “What are the methods of secondary research?” and “When do we use each of these methods?” Here, we can differentiate between three methods of secondary research: using a secondary data set in isolation , combining two secondary data sets, and combining secondary and primary data sets. Let’s outline each of these separately, and also explain when to use each of these methods.

Initially, you can use a secondary data set in isolation – that is, without combining it with other data sets. You dig and find a data set that is useful for your research purposes and then base your entire research on that set of data. You do this when you want to re-assess a data set with a different research question in mind.

Let’s illustrate this with a simple example. Suppose that, in your research, you want to investigate whether pregnant women of different nationalities experience different levels of anxiety during different pregnancy stages. Based on the literature, you have formed an idea that nationality may matter in this relationship between pregnancy and anxiety.

If you wanted to test this relationship by collecting the data yourself, you would need to recruit many pregnant women of different nationalities and assess their anxiety levels throughout their pregnancy. It would take you at least a year to complete this research project.

Instead of undertaking this long endeavour, you thus decide to find a secondary data set – one that investigated (for instance) a range of difficulties experienced by pregnant women in a nationwide sample. The original research question that guided this research could have been: “to what extent do pregnant women experience a range of mental health difficulties, including stress, anxiety, mood disorders, and paranoid thoughts?” The original researchers might have outlined women’s nationality, but weren’t particularly interested in investigating the link between women’s nationality and anxiety at different pregnancy stages. You are, therefore, re-assessing their data set with your own research question in mind.

Your research may, however, require you to combine two secondary data sets . You will use this kind of methodology when you want to investigate the relationship between certain variables in two data sets or when you want to compare findings from two past studies.

To take an example: One of your secondary data sets may focus on a target population’s tendency to smoke cigarettes, while the other data set focuses on the same population’s tendency to drink alcohol. In your own research, you may thus be looking at whether there is a correlation between smoking and drinking among this population.

Here is a second example: Your two secondary data sets may focus on the same outcome variable, such as the degree to which people go to Greece for a summer vacation. However, one data set could have been collected in Britain and the other in Germany. By comparing these two data sets, you can investigate which nation tends to visit Greece more.

Finally, your research project may involve combining primary and secondary data . You may decide to do this when you want to obtain existing information that would inform your primary research.

Let’s use another simple example and say that your research project focuses on American versus British people’s attitudes towards racial discrimination. Let’s say that you were able to find a recent study that investigated Americans’ attitudes of these kind, which were assessed with a certain set of measures. However, your search finds no recent studies on Britons’ attitudes. Let’s also say that you live in London and that it would be difficult for you to assess Americans’ attitudes on the topic, but clearly much more straightforward to conduct primary research on British attitudes.

In this case, you can simply reuse the data from the American study and adopt exactly the same measures with your British participants. Your secondary data is being combined with your primary data. Alternatively, you may combine these types of data when the role of your secondary data is to outline descriptive information that supports your research. For instance, if your project is focusing on attitudes towards McDonald’s food, you may want to support your primary research with secondary data that outlines how many people eat McDonald’s in your country of choice.

TABLE 3 summarises particular methods and purposes of secondary research:

METHOD PURPOSE
Using secondary data set in isolation Re-assessing a data set with a different research question in mind
Combining two secondary data sets Investigating the relationship between variables in two data sets or comparing findings from two past studies
Combining secondary and primary data sets

Obtaining existing information that informs your primary research

We have already provided above several examples of using quantitative secondary data. This type of data is used when the original study has investigated a population’s tendency to smoke or drink alcohol, the degree to which people from different nationalities go to Greece for their summer vacation, or the degree to which pregnant women experience anxiety.

In all these examples, outcome variables were assessed by questionnaires, and thus the obtained data was numerical.

Quantitative secondary research is much more common than qualitative secondary research. However, this is not to say that you cannot use qualitative secondary data in your research project. This type of secondary data is used when you want the previously-collected information to inform your current research. More specifically, it is used when you want to test the information obtained through qualitative research by implementing a quantitative methodology.

For instance, a past qualitative study might have focused on the reasons why people choose to live on boats. This study might have interviewed some 30 participants and noted the four most important reasons people live on boats: (1) they can lead a transient lifestyle, (2) they have an increased sense of freedom, (3) they feel that they are “world citizens”, and (4) they can more easily visit their family members who live in different locations. In your own research, you can therefore reuse this qualitative data to form a questionnaire, which you then give to a larger population of people who live on boats. This will help you to generalise the previously-obtained qualitative results to a broader population.

Importantly, you can also re-assess a qualitative data set in your research, rather than using it as a basis for your quantitative research. Let’s say that your research focuses on the kind of language that people who live on boats use when describing their transient lifestyles. The original research did not focus on this research question per se – however, you can reuse the information from interviews to “extract” the types of descriptions of a transient lifestyle that were given by participants.

TABLE 4 highlights the two main types of secondary data and their associated purposes:

TYPES PURPOSES
Quantitative Both can be used when you want to (a) inform your current research with past data, and (b) re-assess a past data set
Qualitative

Both can be used when you want to (a) inform your current research with past data, and (b) re-assess a past data set

Internal sources of data are those that are internal to the organisation in question. For instance, if you are doing a research project for an organisation (or research institution) where you are an intern, and you want to reuse some of their past data, you would be using internal data sources.

The benefit of using these sources is that they are easily accessible and there is no associated financial cost of obtaining them.

External sources of data, on the other hand, are those that are external to an organisation or a research institution. This type of data has been collected by “somebody else”, in the literal sense of the term. The benefit of external sources of data is that they provide comprehensive data – however, you may sometimes need more effort (or money) to obtain it.

Let’s now focus on different types of internal and external secondary data sources.

There are several types of internal sources. For instance, if your research focuses on an organisation’s profitability, you might use their sales data . Each organisation keeps a track of its sales records, and thus your data may provide information on sales by geographical area, types of customer, product prices, types of product packaging, time of the year, and the like.

Alternatively, you may use an organisation’s financial data . The purpose of using this data could be to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and understand the economic opportunities or outcomes of hiring more people, buying more vehicles, investing in new products, and so on.

Another type of internal data is transport data . Here, you may focus on outlining the safest and most effective transportation routes or vehicles used by an organisation.

Alternatively, you may rely on marketing data , where your goal would be to assess the benefits and outcomes of different marketing operations and strategies.

Some other ideas would be to use customer data to ascertain the ideal type of customer, or to use safety data to explore the degree to which employees comply with an organisation’s safety regulations.

The list of the types of internal sources of secondary data can be extensive; the most important thing to remember is that this data comes from a particular organisation itself, in which you do your research in an internal manner.

The list of external secondary data sources can be just as extensive. One example is the data obtained through government sources . These can include social surveys, health data, agricultural statistics, energy expenditure statistics, population censuses, import/export data, production statistics, and the like. Government agencies tend to conduct a lot of research, therefore covering almost any kind of topic you can think of.

Another external source of secondary data are national and international institutions , including banks, trade unions, universities, health organisations, etc. As with government, such institutions dedicate a lot of effort to conducting up-to-date research, so you simply need to find an organisation that has collected the data on your own topic of interest.

Alternatively, you may obtain your secondary data from trade, business, and professional associations . These usually have data sets on business-related topics and are likely to be willing to provide you with secondary data if they understand the importance of your research. If your research is built on past academic studies, you may also rely on scientific journals as an external data source.

Once you have specified what kind of secondary data you need, you can contact the authors of the original study.

As a final example of a secondary data source, you can rely on data from commercial research organisations. These usually focus their research on media statistics and consumer information, which may be relevant if, for example, your research is within media studies or you are investigating consumer behaviour.

INTERNAL SOURCES EXTERNAL SOURCES
Definition: Internal to the organisation or research institution where you conduct your research Definition: External to the organisation or research institution where you conduct your research
Examples:
• Sales data
• Financial data
• Transport data
• Marketing data
• Customer data
• Safety data

Examples:
• Government sources
• National and international institutions
• Trade, business, and professional associations
• Scientific journals
• Commercial research organisations

At this point, you should have a clearer understanding of secondary research in general terms.

Now it may be useful to focus on the actual process of doing secondary research. This next section is organised to introduce you to each step of this process, so that you can rely on this guide while planning your study. At the end of this blog post, in Table 6 , you will find a summary of all the steps of doing secondary research.

For an undergraduate thesis, you are often provided with a specific research question by your supervisor. But for most other types of research, and especially if you are doing your graduate thesis, you need to arrive at a research question yourself.

The first step here is to specify the general research area in which your research will fall. For example, you may be interested in the topic of anxiety during pregnancy, or tourism in Greece, or transient lifestyles. Since we have used these examples previously, it may be useful to rely on them again to illustrate our discussion.

Once you have identified your general topic, your next step consists of reading through existing papers to see whether there is a gap in the literature that your research can fill. At this point, you may discover that previous research has not investigated national differences in the experiences of anxiety during pregnancy, or national differences in a tendency to go to Greece for a summer vacation, or that there is no literature generalising the findings on people’s choice to live on boats.

Having found your topic of interest and identified a gap in the literature, you need to specify your research question. In our three examples, research questions would be specified in the following manner: (1) “Do women of different nationalities experience different levels of anxiety during different stages of pregnancy?”, (2) “Are there any differences in an interest in Greek tourism between Germans and Britons?”, and (3) “Why do people choose to live on boats?”.

It is at this point, after reviewing the literature and specifying your research questions, that you may decide to rely on secondary data. You will do this if you discover that there is past data that would be perfectly reusable in your own research, therefore helping you to answer your research question more thoroughly (and easily).

But how do you discover if there is past data that could be useful for your research? You do this through reviewing the literature on your topic of interest. During this process, you will identify other researchers, organisations, agencies, or research centres that have explored your research topic.

Somewhere there, you may discover a useful secondary data set. You then need to contact the original authors and ask for a permission to use their data. (Note, however, that this happens only if you are relying on external sources of secondary data. If you are doing your research internally (i.e., within a particular organisation), you don’t need to search through the literature for a secondary data set – you can just reuse some past data that was collected within the organisation itself.)

In any case, you need to ensure that a secondary data set is a good fit for your own research question. Once you have established that it is, you need to specify the reasons why you have decided to rely on secondary data.

For instance, your choice to rely on secondary data in the above examples might be as follows: (1) A recent study has focused on a range of mental difficulties experienced by women in a multinational sample and this data can be reused; (2) There is existing data on Germans’ and Britons’ interest in Greek tourism and these data sets can be compared; and (3) There is existing qualitative research on the reasons for choosing to live on boats, and this data can be relied upon to conduct a further quantitative investigation.

Because such disadvantages of secondary data can limit the effectiveness of your research, it is crucial that you evaluate a secondary data set. To ease this process, we outline here a reflective approach that will allow you to evaluate secondary data in a stepwise fashion.

Step 3(a): What was the aim of the original study?

During this step, you also need to pay close attention to any differences in research purposes and research questions between the original study and your own investigation. As we have discussed previously, you will often discover that the original study had a different research question in mind, and it is important for you to specify this difference.

Let’s put this step of identifying the aim of the original study in practice, by referring to our three research examples. The aim of the first research example was to investigate mental difficulties (e.g., stress, anxiety, mood disorders, and paranoid thoughts) in a multinational sample of pregnant women.

How does this aim differ from your research aim? Well, you are seeking to reuse this data set to investigate national differences in anxiety experienced by women during different pregnancy stages. When it comes to the second research example, you are basing your research on two secondary data sets – one that aimed to investigate Germans’ interest in Greek tourism and the other that aimed to investigate Britons’ interest in Greek tourism.

While these two studies focused on particular national populations, the aim of your research is to compare Germans’ and Britons’ tendency to visit Greece for summer vacation. Finally, in our third example, the original research was a qualitative investigation into the reasons for living on boats. Your research question is different, because, although you are seeking to do the same investigation, you wish to do so by using a quantitative methodology.

Importantly, in all three examples, you conclude that secondary data may in fact answer your research question. If you conclude otherwise, it may be wise to find a different secondary data set or to opt for primary research.

Step 3(b): Who has collected the data?

Let’s say that, in our example of research on pregnancy, data was collected by the UK government; that in our example of research on Greek tourism, the data was collected by a travel agency; and that in our example of research on the reasons for choosing to live on boats, the data was collected by researchers from a UK university.

Let’s also say that you have checked the background of these organisations and researchers, and that you have concluded that they all have a sufficiently professional background, except for the travel agency. Given that this agency’s research did not lead to a publication (for instance), and given that not much can be found about the authors of the research, you conclude that the professionalism of this data source remains unclear.

Step 3(c): Which measures were employed?

Original authors should have documented all their sample characteristics, measures, procedures, and protocols. This information can be obtained either in their final research report or through contacting the authors directly.

It is important for you to know what type of data was collected, which measures were used, and whether such measures were reliable and valid (if they were quantitative measures). You also need to make a clear outline of the type of data collected – and especially the data relevant for your research.

Let’s say that, in our first example, researchers have (among other assessed variables) used a demographic measure to note women’s nationalities and have used the State Anxiety Inventory to assess women’s anxiety levels during different pregnancy stages, both of which you conclude are valid and reliable tools. In our second example, the authors might have crafted their own measure to assess interest in Greek tourism, but there may be no established validity and reliability for this measure. And in our third example, the authors have employed semi-structured interviews, which cover the most important reasons for wanting to live on boats.

Step 3(d): When was the data collected?

Ideally, you want your secondary data to have been collected within the last five years. For the sake of our examples, let’s say that all three original studies were conducted within this time-range.

Step 3(e): What methodology was used to collect the data?

We have already noted that you need to evaluate the reliability and validity of employed measures. In addition to this, you need to evaluate how the sample was obtained, whether the sample was large enough, if the sample was representative of the population, if there were any missing responses on employed measures, whether confounders were controlled for, and whether the employed statistical analyses were appropriate. Any drawbacks in the original methodology may limit your own research as well.

For the sake of our examples, let’s say that the study on mental difficulties in pregnant women recruited a representative sample of pregnant women (i.e., they had different nationalities, different economic backgrounds, different education levels, etc.) in maternity wards of seven hospitals; that the sample was large enough (N = 945); that the number of missing values was low; that many confounders were controlled for (e.g., education level, age, presence of partnership, etc.); and that statistical analyses were appropriate (e.g., regression analyses were used).

Let’s further say that our second research example had slightly less sufficient methodology. Although the number of participants in the two samples was high enough (N1 = 453; N2 = 488), the number of missing values was low, and statistical analyses were appropriate (descriptive statistics), the authors failed to report how they recruited their participants and whether they controlled for any confounders.

Let’s say that these authors also failed to provide you with more information via email. Finally, let’s assume that our third research example also had sufficient methodology, with a sufficiently large sample size for a qualitative investigation (N = 30), high sample representativeness (participants with different backgrounds, coming from different boat communities), and sufficient analyses (thematic analysis).

Note that, since this was a qualitative investigation, there is no need to evaluate the number of missing values and the use of confounders.

Step 3(f): Making a final evaluation

We would conclude that the secondary data from our first research example has a high quality. Data was recently collected by professionals, the employed measures were both reliable and valid, and the methodology was more than sufficient. We can be confident that our new research question can be sufficiently answered with the existing data. Thus, the data set for our first example is ideal.

The two secondary data sets from our second research example seem, however, less than ideal. Although we can answer our research questions on the basis of these recent data sets, the data was collected by an unprofessional source, the reliability and validity of the employed measure is uncertain, and the employed methodology has a few notable drawbacks.

Finally, the data from our third example seems sufficient both for answering our research question and in terms of the specific evaluations (data was collected recently by a professional source, semi-structured interviews were well made, and the employed methodology was sufficient).

The final question to ask is: “what can be done if our evaluation reveals the lack of appropriateness of secondary data?”. The answer, unfortunately, is “nothing”. In this instance, you can only note the drawbacks of the original data set, present its limitations, and conclude that your own research may not be sufficiently well grounded.

how to create secondary research

Your first sub-step here (if you are doing quantitative research) is to outline all variables of interest that you will use in your study. In our first example, you could have at least five variables of interest: (1) women’s nationality, (2) anxiety levels at the beginning of pregnancy, (3) anxiety levels at three months of pregnancy, (4) anxiety levels at six months of pregnancy, and (5) anxiety levels at nine months of pregnancy. In our second example, you will have two variables of interest: (1) participants’ nationality, and (2) the degree of interest in going to Greece for a summer vacation. Once your variables of interest are identified, you need to transfer this data into a new SPSS or Excel file. Remember simply to copy this data into the new file – it is vital that you do not alter it!

Once this is done, you should address missing data (identify and label them) and recode variables if necessary (e.g., giving a value of 1 to German participants and a value of 2 to British participants). You may also need to reverse-score some items, so that higher scores on all items indicate a higher degree of what is being assessed.

Most of the time, you will also need to create new variables – that is, to compute final scores. For instance, in our example of research on anxiety during pregnancy, your data will consist of scores on each item of the State Anxiety Inventory, completed at various times during pregnancy. You will need to calculate final anxiety scores for each time the measure was completed.

Your final step consists of analysing the data. You will always need to decide on the most suitable analysis technique for your secondary data set. In our first research example, you would rely on MANOVA (to see if women of different nationalities experience different stress levels at the beginning, at three months, at six months, and at nine months of pregnancy); and in our second example, you would use an independent samples t-test (to see if interest in Greek tourism differs between Germans and Britons).

The process of preparing and analysing a secondary data set is slightly different if your secondary data is qualitative. In our example on the reasons for living on boats, you would first need to outline all reasons for living on boats, as recognised by the original qualitative research. Then you would need to craft a questionnaire that assesses these reasons in a broader population.

Finally, you would need to analyse the data by employing statistical analyses.

Note that this example combines qualitative and quantitative data. But what if you are reusing qualitative data, as in our previous example of re-coding the interviews from our study to discover the language used when describing transient lifestyles? Here, you would simply need to recode the interviews and conduct a thematic analysis.

STEPS FOR DOING SECONDARY RESEARCH EXAMPLE 1: USING SECONDARY DATA IN ISOLATION EXAMPLE 2: COMBINING TWO SECONDARY DATA SETS Outline all variables of interest; Transfer data to a new file; Address missing data; Recode variables; Calculate final scores; Analyse the data
1. Develop your research question Do women of different nationalities experience different levels of anxiety during different stages of pregnancy? Are there differences in an interest in Greek tourism between Germans and Britons? Why do people choose to live on boats?
2. Identify a secondary data set A recent study has focused on a range of mental difficulties experienced by women in a multinational sample and this data can be reused There is existing data on Germans’ and Britons’ interest in Greek tourism and these data sets can be compared There is existing qualitative research on the reasons for choosing to live on boats, and this data can be relied upon to conduct a further quantitative investigation
3. Evaluate a secondary data set
(a) What was the aim of the original study? To investigate mental difficulties (e.g., stress, anxiety, mood disorders, and paranoid thoughts) in a multinational sample of pregnant women Study 1: To investigate Germans’ interest in Greek tourism; Study 2: To investigate Britons’ interest in Greek tourism To conduct a qualitative investigation on reasons for choosing to live on boats
(b) Who has collected the data? UK government (professional source) Travel agency (uncertain professionalism) UK university (professional source)
(c) Which measures were employed? Demographic characteristics (nationality) and State Anxiety Inventory (reliable and valid) Self-crafted measure to assess interest in Greek tourism (reliability and validity not established) Semi-structured interviews (well-constructed)
(d) When was the data collected? 2015 (not outdated) 2013 (not outdated) 2014 (not outdated)
(e) What methodology was used to collect the data? Sample was representative (women from different backgrounds); large sample size (N = 975); low number of missing values; confounders controlled for (e.g., age, education, partnership status); analyses appropriate (regression) Sample representativeness not reported; sufficient sample sizes (N1 = 453, N2 = 488); low number of missing values; confounders not controlled for; analyses appropriate (descriptive statistics) Sample was representative (participants of different backgrounds, from different boat communities); sufficient sample size (N = 30); analyses appropriate (thematic analysis)
(f) Making a final evaluation Sufficiently developed data set Insufficiently developed data set Sufficiently developed data set
4. Prepare and analyse secondary data Outline all variables of interest; Transfer data to a new file; Address missing data; Recode variables; Calculate final scores; Analyse the data Outline all variables of interest; Transfer data to a new file; Address missing data; Recode variables; Calculate final scores; Analyse the data

Outline all reasons for living on boats; Craft a questionnaire that assesses these reasons in a broader population; Analyse the data

In summary…

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Write Your Dissertation Using Only Secondary Research

how to create secondary research

Writing a dissertation is already difficult to begin with but it can appear to be a daunting challenge when you only have other people’s research as a guide for proving a brand new hypothesis! You might not be familiar with the research or even confident in how to use it but if secondary research is what you’re working with then you’re in luck. It’s actually one of the easiest methods to write about!

Secondary research is research that has already been carried out and collected by someone else. It means you’re using data that’s already out there rather than conducting your own research – this is called primary research. Thankfully secondary will save you time in the long run! Primary research often means spending time finding people and then relying on them for results, something you could do without, especially if you’re in a rush. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of primary research .

So, where do you find secondary data?

Secondary research is available in many different places and it’s important to explore all areas so you can be sure you’re looking at research you can trust. If you’re just starting your dissertation you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with where to begin but once you’ve got your subject clarified, it’s time to get researching! Some good places to search include:

  • Libraries (your own university or others – books and journals are the most popular resources!)
  • Government records
  • Online databases
  • Credible Surveys (this means they need to be from a reputable source)
  • Search engines (google scholar for example).

The internet has everything you’ll need but you’ve got to make sure it’s legitimate and published information. It’s also important to check out your student library because it’s likely you’ll have access to a great range of materials right at your fingertips. There’s a strong chance someone before you has looked for the same topic so it’s a great place to start.

What are the two different types of secondary data?

It’s important to know before you start looking that they are actually two different types of secondary research in terms of data, Qualitative and quantitative. You might be looking for one more specifically than the other, or you could use a mix of both. Whichever it is, it’s important to know the difference between them.

  • Qualitative data – This is usually descriptive data and can often be received from interviews, questionnaires or observations. This kind of data is usually used to capture the meaning behind something.
  • Quantitative data – This relates to quantities meaning numbers. It consists of information that can be measured in numerical data sets.

The type of data you want to be captured in your dissertation will depend on your overarching question – so keep it in mind throughout your search!

Getting started

When you’re getting ready to write your dissertation it’s a good idea to plan out exactly what you’re looking to answer. We recommend splitting this into chapters with subheadings and ensuring that each point you want to discuss has a reliable source to back it up. This is always a good way to find out if you’ve collected enough secondary data to suit your workload. If there’s a part of your plan that’s looking a bit empty, it might be a good idea to do some more research and fill the gap. It’s never a bad thing to have too much research, just as long as you know what to do with it and you’re willing to disregard the less important parts. Just make sure you prioritise the research that backs up your overall point so each section has clarity.

Then it’s time to write your introduction. In your intro, you will want to emphasise what your dissertation aims to cover within your writing and outline your research objectives. You can then follow up with the context around this question and identify why your research is meaningful to a wider audience.

The body of your dissertation

Before you get started on the main chapters of your dissertation, you need to find out what theories relate to your chosen subject and the research that has already been carried out around it.

Literature Reviews

Your literature review will be a summary of any previous research carried out on the topic and should have an intro and conclusion like any other body of the academic text. When writing about this research you want to make sure you are describing, summarising, evaluating and analysing each piece. You shouldn’t just rephrase what the researcher has found but make your own interpretations. This is one crucial way to score some marks. You also want to identify any themes between each piece of research to emphasise their relevancy. This will show that you understand your topic in the context of others, a great way to prove you’ve really done your reading!

Theoretical Frameworks

The theoretical framework in your dissertation will be explaining what you’ve found. It will form your main chapters after your lit review. The most important part is that you use it wisely. Of course, depending on your topic there might be a lot of different theories and you can’t include them all so make sure to select the ones most relevant to your dissertation. When starting on the framework it’s important to detail the key parts to your hypothesis and explain them. This creates a good foundation for what you’re going to discuss and helps readers understand the topic.

To finish off the theoretical framework you want to start suggesting where your research will fit in with those texts in your literature review. You might want to challenge a theory by critiquing it with another or explain how two theories can be combined to make a new outcome. Either way, you must make a clear link between their theories and your own interpretations – remember, this is not opinion based so don’t make a conclusion unless you can link it back to the facts!

Concluding your dissertation

Your conclusion will highlight the outcome of the research you’ve undertaken. You want to make this clear and concise without repeating information you’ve already mentioned in your main body paragraphs. A great way to avoid repetition is to highlight any overarching themes your conclusions have shown

When writing your conclusion it’s important to include the following elements:

  • Summary – A summary of what you’ve found overall from your research and the conclusions you have come to as a result.
  • Recommendations – Recommendations on what you think the next steps should be. Is there something you would change about this research to improve it or further develop it?
  • Show your contribution – It’s important to show how you’ve contributed to the current knowledge on the topic and not just repeated what other researchers have found.

Hopefully, this helps you with your secondary data research for your dissertation! It’s definitely not as hard as it seems, the hardest part will be gathering all of the information in the first place. It may take a while but once you’ve found your flow – it’ll get easier, promise! You may also want to read about the advantages and disadvantages of secondary research .

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A Complete Guide to Primary and Secondary Research in UX Design

how to create secondary research

To succeed in UX design, you must know what UX research methods to use for your projects.

This impacts how you:

  • Understand and meet user needs
  • Execute strategic and business-driven solutions
  • Differentiate yourself from other designers
  • Be more efficient in your resources
  • Innovate within your market

Primary and secondary research methods are crucial to uncovering this. The former is when you gather firsthand data directly from sources, while the latter synthesizes existing data and translates them into insights and recommendations.

Let's dive deep into each type of research method and its role in UX research.

If you are still hungry to learn more, specifically how to apply it practically in the real world, you should check out Michael Wong's UX research course . He teaches you  the exact process and tactics he used that helped him build a UX agency that generated over $10M+ million in revenue.

What is p rimary research in UX design

Primary UX research gathers data directly from the users to understand their needs, behaviors, and preferences.

It's done through interviews, surveys, and observing users as they interact with a product.

Primary research in UX: When and why to use it

Primary research typically starts at the start of a UX project. This is so that the design process is grounded in a deep understanding of user needs and behaviors.

By collecting firsthand information early on, teams can tailor their designs to address real user problems.

Here are the reasons why primary research is important in UX design: ‍

1. It fast-tracks your industry understanding

Your knowledge about the industry may be limited at the start of the project. Primary research helps you get up to speed because you interact directly with real customers. As a result, this allows you to work more effectively.

Example: Imagine you're designing an app for coffee lovers. But you're not a coffee drinker yourself. Through user interviews, you learn how they prefer to order their favorite drink, what they love or hate about existing coffee apps, and their "wishlist" features by talking directly to them.

This crucial information will guide you on what to focus on in later stages when you do the actual designing. ‍

2. You'll gain clarity and fill knowledge gaps

There are always areas we know less about than we'd like. Primary research helps fill these gaps by observing user preferences and needs directly.

Example: Let's say you're working on a website for online learning. You might assume that users prefer video lessons over written content, but your survey results show that many users prefer written material because they can learn at their own pace.

With that in mind, you'll prioritize creating user-friendly design layouts for written lessons. ‍

3. You get to test and validate any uncertainties

When unsure about a feature, design direction, or user preference, primary research allows you to test these elements with real users.

This validation process helps you confidently move forward since you have data backing your decisions.

Example: You're designing a fitness app and can't decide between a gamified experience (with points and levels) or a more straightforward tracking system.

By prototyping both options and testing them with a group of users, you discover that the gamified experience concept resonates more.

Users are more motivated when they gain points and progress levels. As a result, you pivot to designing a better-gamified experience.

Types of primary research methods in UX design

Here's a detailed look at common primary research methods in UX:

1. User interviews

  • What is it: User interviews involve one-on-one conversations with users to gather detailed insights, opinions, and feedback about their experiences with a product or service.
  • Best used for: Gathering qualitative insights on user needs, motivations, and pain points.
  • Tools: Zoom and Google Meet for remote interviews; Calendly for scheduling; Otter.ai for transcription. ‍
  • What is it: Surveys are structured questionnaires designed to collect quantitative data on user preferences, behaviors, and demographics.
  • Best used for: Collecting data from many users to identify patterns and trends.
  • Tools: Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and Typeform for survey creation; Google Sheets and Notion for note taking. ‍

3. Usability testing

  • What is it: Usability testing involves observing users interact with a prototype or the actual product to identify usability issues and areas for improvement.
  • Best used for: Identifying and addressing usability problems.
  • Tools: FigJam, Lookback.io , UserTesting, Hotjar for conducting and recording sessions; InVision, Figma for prototype testing; Google Sheets to log usability issues and track task completion rates. ‍

4. Contextual inquiry

  • What is it: This method involves observing and interviewing users in their natural environment to understand how they use a product in real-life situations.
  • Best used for: Gaining deep insights into user behavior and the context in which a product is used.
  • Tools: GoPro or other wearable cameras for in-field recording; Evernote for note-taking; Miro for organizing insights. ‍

5. Card sorting

  • What is it: Card sorting is when users organize and categorize content or information.
  • Best used for: Designing or evaluating the information architecture of a website or application.
  • Tools: FigJam, Optimal Workshop, UXPin, and Trello for digital card sorting; Mural for collaborative sorting sessions. ‍

6. Focus groups

  • What is it: Group discussions with users that explore their perceptions, attitudes, and opinions about a product.
  • Best used for: Gathering various user opinions and ideas in an interactive setting.
  • Tools: Zoom, Microsoft Teams for remote focus groups; Menti or Slido for real-time polling and feedback. ‍

7. Diary studies

  • What is it: A method where users record their experiences, thoughts, and frustrations while interacting with a product over a certain period of time.
  • Best used for: Understanding long-term user behavior, habits, and needs.
  • Tools: Dscout, ExperienceFellow for mobile diary entries; Google Docs for simple text entries. ‍

8. Prototype testing

  • What is it: Prototype testing is when users evaluate the usability and design of early product prototypes with users.
  • Best used for: Identifying usability issues and gathering feedback on design concepts
  • Tools: Figma for creating and sharing prototypes; Maze for unmoderated testing and analytics. ‍

9. Eye-tracking

  • What is it: A method that analyzes where and how long users look at different areas on a screen.
  • Best used for: Understanding user attention, readability, and visual hierarchy effectiveness.
  • Tools: Tobii, iMotions for hardware; Crazy Egg for website heatmaps as a simpler alternative. ‍

10. A/B testing

  • What is it: A/B testing compares two or more versions of a webpage or app feature to determine which performs better in achieving specific goals.
  • Best used for: Making data-driven decisions on design elements that impact user behavior.
  • Tools: Optimizely, Google Optimize for web-based A/B testing; VWO for more in-depth analysis and segmentation. ‍

11. Field studies

  • What is it: Research done in real-world settings to observe and analyze user behavior and interactions in their natural environment.
  • Best used for: Gaining insights into how products are used in real-world contexts and identifying unmet user needs.
  • Tools: Notability, OneNote for note-taking; Voice Memos for audio recording; Trello for organizing observations. ‍

12. Think-aloud protocols

  • What is it: A method involves users verbalizing their thought process while interacting with a product. It helps uncover their decision-making process and pain points.
  • Best used for: Understanding user reasoning, expectations, and experiences when using the product.
  • Tools: UsabilityHub, Morae for recording think-aloud sessions; Zoom for remote testing with screen sharing.

Challenges of primary research in UX

Here are the obstacles that UX professionals may face with primary research:

  • Time-consuming : Primary research requires significant planning, conducting, and analyzing. This is particularly relevant for methods that involve a lot of user interaction.
  • Resource intensive : A considerable amount of resources is needed, including specialized tools or skills for data collection and analysis.
  • Recruitment difficulties : Finding and recruiting suitable participants willing to put in the effort can be challenging and costly.
  • Bias and validity : The risk of bias in collecting and interpreting data highlights the importance of carefully designing the research strategy. This is so that the findings are accurate and reliable. ‍

What is secondary research in UX design

Once primary research is conducted, secondary research analyzes and converts this data into insights. They may also find common themes and ideas and convert them into meaningful recommendations.

Using journey maps, personas, and affinity diagrams can help them better understand the problem.

Secondary research also involves reviewing existing research, published books, articles, studies, and online information. This includes competitor websites and online analytics to support design ideas and concepts. ‍

Secondary research in UX: Knowing when and why to use it

Secondary research is a flexible method in the design process. It fits in both before and after primary research.

At the project's start, looking at existing research and what's already known can help shape your design strategy. This groundwork helps you understand the design project in a broader context.

After completing your primary research, secondary research comes into play again. This time, it's about synthesizing your findings and forming insights or recommendations for your stakeholders.

Here's why it's important in your design projects:

1. It gives you a deeper understanding of your existing research

Secondary research gathers your primary research findings to identify common themes and patterns. This allows for a more informed approach and uncovers opportunities in your design process.

Example: When creating personas or proto-personas for a fitness app, you might find common desires for personalized workout plans and motivational features.

This data shapes personas like "Fitness-focused Fiona," a detailed profile that embodies a segment of your audience with her own set of demographics, fitness objectives, challenges, and likes. ‍

2. Learn more about competitors

Secondary research in UX is also about leveraging existing data in the user landscape and competitors.

This may include conducting a competitor or SWOT analysis so that your design decisions are not just based on isolated findings but are guided by a comprehensive overview. This highlights opportunities for differentiation and innovation.

Example: Suppose you're designing a budgeting app for a startup. You can check Crunchbase, an online database of startup information, to learn about your competitors' strengths and weaknesses.

If your competitor analysis reveals that all major budgeting apps lack personalized advice features, this shows an opportunity for yours to stand out by offering customized budgeting tips and financial guidance. ‍

Types of secondary research methods in UX

1. competitive analysis.

  • What is it: Competitive analysis involves systematically comparing your product with its competitors in the market. It's a strategic tool that helps identify where your product stands about the competition and what unique value proposition it can offer.
  • Best used for: Identifying gaps in the market that your product can fill, understanding user expectations by analyzing what works well in existing products, and pinpointing areas for improvement in your own product.
  • Tools: Google Sheets to organize and visualize your findings; Crunchbase and SimilarWeb to look into competitor performance and market positioning; and UserVoice to get insights into what users say about your competitors.

2. Affinity mapping

  • What is it: A collaborative sorting technique used to organize large sets of information into groups based on their natural relationships.
  • Best used for: Grouping insights from user research, brainstorming sessions, or feedback to identify patterns, themes, and priorities. It helps make sense of qualitative data, such as user interview transcripts, survey responses, or usability test observations.
  • Tools: Miro and FigJam for remote affinity mapping sessions.

3. Customer journey mapping

  • What is it: The process of creating a visual representation of the customer's experience with a product or service over time and across different touchpoints.
  • Best used for: Visualizing the user's path from initial engagement through various interactions to the final goal.
  • Tools: FigJam and Google Sheets for collaborative journey mapping efforts.

4. Literature and academic review

  • What is it: This involves examining existing scholarly articles, books, and other academic publications relevant to your design project. The goal is to deeply understand your project's theoretical foundations, past research findings, and emerging trends.
  • Best used for: Establishing a solid theoretical framework for your design decisions. A literature review can uncover insights into user behavior and design principles that inform your design strategy.
  • Tools: Academic databases like Google Scholar, JSTOR, and specific UX/UI research databases. Reference management tools like Zotero and Mendeley can help organize your sources and streamline the review process.

Challenges of secondary research in UX design

These are the challenges that UX professionals might encounter when carrying out secondary research:

  • Outdated information : In a world where technology changes fast, the information you use must be current, or it might not be helpful.
  • Challenges with pre-existing data : Using data you didn't collect yourself can be tricky because you have less control over its quality. Always review how it was gathered to avoid mistakes.
  • Data isn't just yours : Since secondary data is available to everyone, you won't be the only one using it. This means your competitors can access similar findings or insights.
  • Trustworthiness : Look into where your information comes from so that it's reliable. Watch out for any bias in the data as well. ‍

The mixed-method approach: How primary and secondary research work together

Primary research lays the groundwork, while secondary research weaves a cohesive story and connects the findings to create a concrete design strategy.

Here's how this mixed-method approach works in a sample UX project for a health tech app:

Phase 1: Groundwork and contextualization

  • User interviews and surveys (Primary research) : The team started their project by interviewing patients and healthcare providers. The objective was to uncover the main issues with current health apps and what features could enhance patient care.
  • Industry and academic literature review (Secondary research) : The team also reviewed existing literature on digital health interventions, industry reports on health app trends, and case studies on successful health apps. ‍

Phase 2: Analysis and strategy formulation

  • Affinity mapping (Secondary research) : Insights from the interviews and surveys were organized using affinity mapping. It revealed key pain points like needing more personalized and interactive care plans.
  • Competitive benchmarking (Secondary research) : The team also analyzed competitors’ apps through secondary research to identify common functionalities and gaps. They noticed a lack of personalized patient engagement and, therefore, positioned their app to fill this void in the market. ‍

Phase 3: Design and validation

  • Prototyping (Secondary research) : With a good grasp of what users need and the opportunities in the market, the startup created prototypes. These prototypes include AI-powered personalized care plans, reminders for medications, and interactive tools to track health.
  • Usability testing (Primary research) : The prototypes were tested with a sample of the target user group, including patients and healthcare providers. Feedback was mostly positive, especially for the personalized care plans. This shows that the app has the potential to help patients get more involved in their health. ‍

Phase 4: Refinement and market alignment

  • Improving design through iterations: The team continuously refined the app's design based on feedback from ongoing usability testing.
  • Ongoing market review (Secondary research) : The team watched for new studies, healthcare reports, and competitors' actions. This helped them make sure their app stayed ahead in digital health innovation. ‍

Amplify your design impact and impress your stakeholders in 10+ hours

Primary and secondary research methods are part of a much larger puzzle in UX research.

However, understanding the theoretical part is not enough to make it as a UX designer nowadays.

The reason?

UX design is highly practical and constantly evolving. To succeed in the field, UX designers must do more than just design.

They understand the bigger picture and know how to deliver business-driven design solutions rather than designs that look pretty.

Sometimes, the best knowledge comes from those who have been there themselves. That's why finding the right mentor with experience and who can give practical advice is crucial.

In just 10+ hours, the Practical UX Research & Strategy Course dives deep into strategic problem-solving. By the end, you'll know exactly how to make data-backed solutions your stakeholders will get on board with.

Master the end-to-end UX research workflow, from formulating the right user questions to executing your research strategy and effectively presenting your findings to stakeholders.

Learn straight from Mizko—a seasoned industry leader with a track record as a successful designer, $10M+ former agency owner, and advisor for tech startups.

This course equips you with the skills to:

  • Derive actionable insights through objective-driven questions.
  • Conduct unbiased, structured interviews.
  • Select ideal participants for quality data.
  • Create affinity maps from research insights.
  • Execute competitor analysis with expertise.
  • Analyze large data sets and user insights systematically.
  • Transform research and data into actionable frameworks and customer journey maps.
  • Communicate findings effectively and prioritize tasks for your team.
  • Present metrics and objectives that resonate with stakeholders.

Designed for flexible and independent learning, this course allows you to progress independently.

With 4000+ designers from top tech companies like Google, Meta, and Squarespace among its alumni, this course empowers UX designers to integrate research skills into their design practices.

Here's what students have to say about the 4.9/5 rated course:

"I'm 100% more confident when talking to stakeholders about User Research & Strategy and the importance of why it needs to be included in the process. I also have gained such a beautiful new understanding of my users that greatly influences my designs. All of the "guesswork" that I was doing is now real, meaningful work that has stats and research behind it." - Booking.com Product Designer Alyssa Durante

"I had no proper clarity of how to conduct a research in a systematically form which actually aligns to the project. Now I have a Step by Step approach from ground 0 to final synthesis." - UX/UI Designer Kaustav Das Biswas

"The most impactful element has been the direct application of the learnings in my recent projects at Amazon. Integrating the insights gained from the course into two significant projects yielded outstanding results, significantly influencing both my career and personal growth. This hands-on experience not only enhanced my proficiency in implementing UX strategies but also bolstered my confidence in guiding, coaching, mentoring, and leading design teams." - Amazon.com UX designer Zohdi Rizvi

Gain expert UX research skills and outshine your competitors.

how to create secondary research

Mizko, also known as Michael Wong, brings a 14-year track record as a Founder, Educator, Investor, and Designer. His career evolved from lead designer to freelancer, and ultimately to the owner of a successful agency, generating over $10M in revenue from Product (UX/UI) Design, Web Design, and No-code Development. His leadership at the agency contributed to the strategy and design for over 50 high-growth startups, aiding them in raising a combined total of over $400M+ in venture capital.

Notable projects include: Autotrader (Acquired. by eBay), PhoneWagon (Acquired by CallRails), Spaceship ($1B in managed funds), Archistar ($15M+ raised) and many more.

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How to recognize nurs study methodology.

  • How to use this guide
  • Primary | Secondary
  • Observational | Experimental
  • Cross Sectional | Longitudinal
  • Prospective | Retrospective
  • Independent | Dependent Variables

Primary sources

Primary sources are articles that describe the methodology and results of a study they performed first hand. It's also important to specify that the study design of a primary source does NOT depend on systematically searching for previous studies that will then be anlayzed or synthesized as part of the study. A study design that relies on analyzing the results of previous studies is a  secondary source.

A red exclamation point calls attention here.

Primary Articles - What to look for

Does the article describe conducting a study by gathering and comparing data, introducing and assessing a variable or intervention, conducting a survey, or performing interviews?

Primary studies describe research the authors did themselves, and specifically research that does not involve gathering and analyzing studies done by other researchers. 

Look at the methodology section and title. Does it describe the study design as one of the below?

Types of Study Designs for Primary Articles:

  • Case Studies
  • Clinical Trials
  • Comparative Studies
  • Observational Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials
  • Longitudinal
  • Cross Sectional
  • Experimental
  • Quasi-experimental

Is this a primary article? [video]

Secondary Articles - What to look for

Does the article's methodology section describe searching in databases for articles meeting certain criteria?

Secondary studies analyze the results of other studies to draw big conclusions about best practice. So their methodology sections will typically describe the careful process they used to find as many results as possible, including what databases they searched, what keywords they used, and what the inclusion and exclusion criteria were for any articles analyzed in the study.

Types of Study Designs for Secondary Articles:

  • Systematic Reviews
  • Meta Analyses
  • Meta Narratives
  • Meta Syntheses
  • Literature Review
  • Narrative Review
  • Practice Guidelines

What are secondary sources? [video]

  • << Previous: How to use this guide
  • Next: Observational | Experimental >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 12, 2024 4:37 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.uccs.edu/nurs-methods

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Secondary research: definition, methods, & examples.

18 min read This ultimate guide to secondary research helps you understand changes in market trends, customers buying patterns and your competition using existing data sources.

In situations where you’re not involved in the data gathering process ( primary research ), you have to rely on existing information and data to arrive at specific research conclusions or outcomes. This approach is known as secondary research.

In this article, we’re going to explain what secondary research is, how it works, and share some examples of it in practice.

What is secondary research?

Secondary research, also known as desk research, is a research method that involves compiling existing data sourced from a variety of channels . This includes internal sources (e.g.in-house research) or, more commonly, external sources (such as government statistics, organisational bodies, and the internet).

Secondary research comes in several formats, such as published datasets, reports, and survey responses , and can also be sourced from websites, libraries, and museums.

The information is usually free — or available at a limited access cost — and gathered using surveys , telephone interviews, observation, face-to-face interviews, and more.

When using secondary research, researchers collect, verify, analyse and incorporate it to help them confirm research goals for the research period.

As well as the above, it can be used to review previous research into an area of interest. Researchers can look for patterns across data spanning several years and identify trends — or use it to verify early hypothesis statements and establish whether it’s worth continuing research into a prospective area.

How to conduct secondary research

There are five key steps to conducting secondary research effectively and efficiently:

1.    Identify and define the research topic

First, understand what you will be researching and define the topic by thinking about the research questions you want to be answered.

Ask yourself: What is the point of conducting this research? Then, ask: What do we want to achieve?

This may indicate an exploratory reason (why something happened) or confirm a hypothesis. The answers may indicate ideas that need primary or secondary research (or a combination) to investigate them.

2.    Find research and existing data sources

If secondary research is needed, think about where you might find the information. This helps you narrow down your secondary sources to those that help you answer your questions. What keywords do you need to use?

Which organisations are closely working on this topic already? Are there any competitors that you need to be aware of?

Create a list of the data sources, information, and people that could help you with your work.

3.    Begin searching and collecting the existing data

Now that you have the list of data sources, start accessing the data and collect the information into an organised system. This may mean you start setting up research journal accounts or making telephone calls to book meetings with third-party research teams to verify the details around data results.

As you search and access information, remember to check the data’s date, the credibility of the source, the relevance of the material to your research topic, and the methodology used by the third-party researchers. Start small and as you gain results, investigate further in the areas that help your research’s aims.

4.    Combine the data and compare the results

When you have your data in one place, you need to understand, filter, order, and combine it intelligently. Data may come in different formats where some data could be unusable, while other information may need to be deleted.

After this, you can start to look at different data sets to see what they tell you. You may find that you need to compare the same datasets over different periods for changes over time or compare different datasets to notice overlaps or trends. Ask yourself: What does this data mean to my research? Does it help or hinder my research?

5.    Analyse your data and explore further

In this last stage of the process, look at the information you have and ask yourself if this answers your original questions for your research. Are there any gaps ? Do you understand the information you’ve found? If you feel there is more to cover, repeat the steps and delve deeper into the topic so that you can get all the information you need.

If secondary research can’t provide these answers, consider supplementing your results with data gained from primary research. As you explore further, add to your knowledge and update your findings. This will help you present clear, credible information.

Primary vs secondary research

Unlike secondary research, primary research involves creating data first-hand by directly working with interviewees, target users, or a target market. Primary research focuses on the method for carrying out research, asking questions, and collecting data using approaches such as:

  • Interviews (panel, face-to-face or over the phone)
  • Questionnaires or surveys
  • Focus groups

Using these methods, researchers can get in-depth, targeted responses to questions, making results more accurate and specific to their research goals. However, it does take time to do and administer.

Unlike primary research, secondary research uses existing data, which also includes published results from primary research. Researchers summarise the existing research and use the results to support their research goals.

Both primary and secondary research have their places. Primary research can support the findings found through secondary research (and fill knowledge gaps), while secondary research can be a starting point for further primary research. Because of this, these research methods are often combined for optimal research results that are accurate at both the micro and macro level.

First-hand research to collect data. May require a lot of time The research collects existing, published data. May require a little time
Creates raw data that the researcher owns The researcher has no control over data method or ownership
Relevant to the goals of the research May not be relevant to the goals of the research
The researcher conducts research. May be subject to researcher bias The researcher collects results. No information on what researcher bias existsSources of secondary research
Can be expensive to carry out More affordable due to access to free data

Sources of Secondary Research

There are two types of secondary research sources: internal and external. Internal data refers to in-house data that can be gathered from the researcher’s organisation. External data refers to data published outside of and not owned by the researcher’s organisation.

Internal data

Internal data is a good first port of call for insights and knowledge, as you may already have relevant information stored in your systems. Because you own this information — and it won’t be available to other researchers — it can give you a competitive edge . Examples of internal data include:

  • Database information on sales history and business goal conversions
  • Information from website applications and mobile site data
  • Customer-generated data on product and service efficiency and use
  • Previous research results or supplemental research areas
  • Previous campaign results

External data

External data is useful when you: 1) need information on a new topic, 2) want to fill in gaps in your knowledge, or 3) want data that breaks down a population or market for trend and pattern analysis. Examples of external data include:

  • Government, non-government agencies, and trade body statistics
  • Company reports and research
  • Competitor research
  • Public library collections
  • Textbooks and research journals
  • Media stories in newspapers
  • Online journals and research sites

Three examples of secondary research methods in action

How and why might you conduct secondary research? Let’s look at a few examples:

1.    Collecting factual information from the internet on a specific topic or market

There are plenty of sites that hold data for people to view and use in their research. For example, Google Scholar, ResearchGate, or Wiley Online Library all provide previous research on a particular topic. Researchers can create free accounts and use the search facilities to look into a topic by keyword, before following the instructions to download or export results for further analysis.

This can be useful for exploring a new market that your organisation wants to consider entering. For instance, by viewing the U.S Census Bureau demographic data for that area, you can see what your target audience’s demographic segmentations are , and create compelling marketing campaigns accordingly.

2.    Finding out the views of your target audience on a particular topic

If you’re interested in seeing the historical views on a particular topic, for example, attitudes to women’s rights in the US, you can turn to secondary sources.

Textbooks, news articles, reviews, and journal entries can all provide qualitative reports and interviews covering how people discussed women’s rights. There may be multimedia elements like video or documented posters of propaganda showing biased language usage.

By gathering this information, synthesising it, and evaluating the language, who created it and when it was shared, you can create a timeline of how a topic was discussed over time.

3.    When you want to know the latest thinking on a topic

Educational institutions, such as schools and colleges, create a lot of research-based reports on younger audiences or their academic specialisms. Dissertations from students also can be submitted to research journals, making these places useful places to see the latest insights from a new generation of academics.

Information can be requested — and sometimes academic institutions may want to collaborate and conduct research on your behalf. This can provide key primary data in areas that you want to research, as well as secondary data sources for your research.

Advantages of secondary research

There are several benefits of using secondary research, which we’ve outlined below:

  • Easily and readily available data – There is an abundance of readily accessible data sources that have been pre-collected for use, in person at local libraries and online using the internet. This data is usually sorted by filters or can be exported into spreadsheet format, meaning that little technical expertise is needed to access and use the data.
  • Faster research speeds – Since the data is already published and in the public arena, you don’t need to collect this information through primary research. This can make the research easier to do and faster, as you can get started with the data quickly.
  • Low financial and time costs – Most secondary data sources can be accessed for free or at a small cost to the researcher, so the overall research costs are kept low. In addition, by saving on preliminary research, the time costs for the researcher are kept down as well.
  • Secondary data can drive additional research actions – The insights gained can support future research activities (like conducting a follow-up survey or specifying future detailed research topics) or help add value to these activities.
  • Secondary data can be useful pre-research insights – Secondary source data can provide pre-research insights and information on effects that can help resolve whether research should be conducted. It can also help highlight knowledge gaps, so subsequent research can consider this.
  • Ability to scale up results – Secondary sources can include large datasets (like Census data results across several states) so research results can be scaled up quickly using large secondary data sources.

Disadvantages of secondary research

The disadvantages of secondary research are worth considering in advance of conducting research :

  • Secondary research data can be out of date – Secondary sources can be updated regularly, but if you’re exploring the data between two updates, the data can be out of date. Researchers will need to consider whether the data available provides the right research coverage dates, so that insights are accurate and timely, or if the data needs to be updated. Also, fast-moving markets may find secondary data expires very quickly.
  • Secondary research needs to be verified and interpreted – Where there’s a lot of data from one source, a researcher needs to review and analyse it. The data may need to be verified against other data sets or your hypotheses for accuracy and to ensure you’re using the right data for your research.
  • The researcher has had no control over the secondary research – As the researcher has not been involved in the secondary research, invalid data can affect the results. It’s therefore vital that the methodology and controls are closely reviewed so that the data is collected in a systematic and error-free way.
  • Secondary research data is not exclusive – As data sets are commonly available, there is no exclusivity and many researchers can use the same data. This can be problematic where researchers want to have exclusive rights over the research results and risk duplication of research in the future.

When do we conduct secondary research?

Now that you know the basics of secondary research, when do researchers normally conduct secondary research?

It’s often used at the beginning of research, when the researcher is trying to understand the current landscape . In addition, if the research area is new to the researcher, it can form crucial background context to help them understand what information exists already. This can plug knowledge gaps, supplement the researcher’s own learning or add to the research.

Secondary research can also be used in conjunction with primary research. Secondary research can become the formative research that helps pinpoint where further primary research is needed to find out specific information. It can also support or verify the findings from primary research.

You can use secondary research where high levels of control aren’t needed by the researcher, but a lot of knowledge on a topic is required from different angles.

Secondary research should not be used in place of primary research as both are very different and are used for various circumstances.

Questions to ask before conducting secondary research

Before you start your secondary research, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there similar internal data that we have created for a similar area in the past?

If your organisation has past research, it’s best to review this work before starting a new project. The older work may provide you with the answers, and give you a starting dataset and context of how your organisation approached the research before. However, be mindful that the work is probably out of date and view it with that note in mind. Read through and look for where this helps your research goals or where more work is needed.

  • What am I trying to achieve with this research?

When you have clear goals, and understand what you need to achieve, you can look for the perfect type of secondary or primary research to support the aims. Different secondary research data will provide you with different information – for example, looking at news stories to tell you a breakdown of your market’s buying patterns won’t be as useful as internal or external data e-commerce and sales data sources.

  • How credible will my research be?

If you are looking for credibility, you want to consider how accurate the research results will need to be, and if you can sacrifice credibility for speed by using secondary sources to get you started. Bear in mind which sources you choose — low-credibility data sites, like political party websites that are highly biased to favour their own party, would skew your results.

  • What is the date of the secondary research?

When you’re looking to conduct research, you want the results to be as useful as possible , so using data that is 10 years old won’t be as accurate as using data that was created a year ago. Since a lot can change in a few years, note the date of your research and look for earlier data sets that can tell you a more recent picture of results. One caveat to this is using data collected over a long-term period for comparisons with earlier periods, which can tell you about the rate and direction of change.

  • Can the data sources be verified? Does the information you have check out?

If you can’t verify the data by looking at the research methodology, speaking to the original team or cross-checking the facts with other research, it could be hard to be sure that the data is accurate. Think about whether you can use another source, or if it’s worth doing some supplementary primary research to replicate and verify results to help with this issue.

We created a front-to-back guide on conducting market research, The ultimate guide to conducting market research , so you can understand the research journey with confidence.

In it, you’ll learn more about:

  • What effective market research looks like
  • The use cases for market research
  • The most important steps to conducting market research
  • And how to take action on your research findings

Download the free guide for a clearer view on secondary research and other key research types for your business.

Download our free guide for a clearer view on market research for your business

Related resources

Market intelligence tools 10 min read, qualitative research questions 11 min read, primary vs secondary research 14 min read, business research methods 12 min read, ethnographic research 11 min read, business research 10 min read, qualitative research design 12 min read, request demo.

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Penalties and Interest Rates

On this page..., interest rates, sales, use, withholding, fuel, franchise and income taxes, 5% penalty for failure to timely file a return:.

  • If you do not file your return by the due date and you paid less than 90% of the correct tax, you owe an additional 5% of the unpaid tax.

5% Penalty for Failure to Timely Pay the Tax Due:

  • If you paid less than 90% of the correct tax due by the due date, you owe an additional 5% of the unpaid tax. You may be subject to both of the above penalties. 

5% Penalty for audit or examination deficiency:

  • A penalty of 5% will be added to the unpaid tax if the Department discovers an underpayment during an audit or examination.

75% Penalty for fraud or frivolous tax return filings or willful failure to file a return:

  • A penalty of 75% will be added to the fraudulent claim or unpaid tax for fraudulent claims or willful failure to file a return. This penalty cannot be waived.

Penalties can be waived under limited circumstances, as described in Iowa Code section 421.27. Complete and submit a Penalty Waiver Request form (78-629) or, for eligible tax types, use GovConnectIowa to request a penalty be waived. An exhaustive list of penalty waivers can be found on the Penalty Waiver Request form.

$500 Civil Penalty:

A $500 civil penalty is assessed when a return is considered to be a “frivolous return.” A “frivolous return” is a return that lacks sufficient information to determine the substantial correctness of the amount of tax liability or contains information that indicates the amount of tax shown is substantially incorrect and this conduct is due to a position of law taken that is frivolous or a desire to delay or impede the administration of the tax laws of Iowa.

$1,000 Penalty for Failure to File after Demand

A $1,000 penalty is assessed when a taxpayer continues to fail to file 90 days after the Department issues a demand letter. A separate penalty will be assessed for each unfiled return listed in the demand letter. This penalty is in addition to the failure to file penalties listed above.

Late File Penalties Applicable to Specified Businesses

C corporations, S corporations, financial institutions, and partnerships required to file an Iowa income or franchise tax return with no tax due will be assessed a penalty on the entity’s imputed Iowa liability if they fail to timely file the return. The business’s imputed Iowa liability is equal to its Iowa net income after the application of the Iowa business activity ratio, if applicable, multiplied by the applicable tax rate for the tax year, less any Iowa tax credits available to be claimed by the business. The penalty is equal to the greater of $200 or 5% of the imputed liability, not to exceed $25,000.

If a business subject to this penalty willfully fails to file a return with no tax due with intent to evade a filing requirement or with the intent to evade reporting of Iowa-source income, the penalty is equal to the greater of $1,500 or 75% of the imputed Iowa liability. This penalty cannot be waived.

5% Penalty for Failure to File and Pay Electronically

  • In addition to the penalties described above, the following two penalties also apply to sales and use and fuel tax:
  • Failure to pay electronically: A penalty of 5% will be added to the tax due if the payment is not received electronically through GovConnectIowa or ACH Credit as required.
  • Failure to use the required method of filing: The tax return information must be reported through GovConnectIowa. If not, a penalty of 5% of the amount of tax due will be added.

This summary is based on Iowa Code section 421.8 and 421.27 and Iowa Administrative Code chapter 701-10.

January 1, 2024 through December 31, 2024

  • Yearly: 10.0%
  • Monthly: 0.8%
  • Daily: 0.027322%

Interest Rate Table

For amended returns filed in calendar year 2024 only.

If there is additional tax due on the return, interest on the unpaid tax is to be computed using the table below. To find the applicable rate, find the tax year for which you are amending your return in the left hand column. Then go to the right until you reach the column for the month in 2024 in which the amended return is filed.

    0.81.62.43.24.04.85.66.4
4.85.66.47.28.08.89.610.411.212.012.813.6
10.010.811.612.413.214.014.815.616.417.218.018.8
15.616.417.218.018.819.620.421.222.022.823.624.4
22.423.224.024.825.626.427.228.028.829.630.431.2
29.630.431.232.032.833.634.435.236.036.837.638.4
36.036.837.638.439.240.040.841.642.443.244.044.8
41.242.042.843.644.445.246.046.847.648.449.250.0
46.046.847.648.449.250.050.851.652.453.254.054.8
50.851.652.453.254.054.855.656.457.258.058.859.6
55.656.457.258.058.859.660.461.262.062.863.664.4

History of Interest Rates for the Iowa Department of Revenue

YearRate Per MonthRate Per Year
20240.8% per month10.0% per year
20230.5% per month6.0% per year
20220.4% per month5.0% per year
20210.5% per month6.0% per year
20200.6% per month7.0% per year
20190.6% per month7.0% per year
20180.5% per month6.0% per year
20170.4% per month5.0% per year
20160.4% per month5.0% per year
20150.4% per month5.0% per year
20140.4% per month5.0% per year
20130.4% per month5.0% per year
20120.4% per month5.0% per year
20110.4% per month5.0% per year
20100.4% per month5.0% per year
20090.7% per month8.0% per year
20080.8% per month10.0% per year
20070.8% per month10.0% per year
20060.7% per month8.0% per year
20050.5% per month6.0% per year
20040.5% per month6.0% per year
20030.6% per month7.0% per year
20020.8% per month10.0% per year
20010.9% per month11.0% per year
20000.8% per month10.0% per year
19990.8% per month10.0% per year
19980.8% per month10.0% per year
19970.8% per month10.0% per year
19960.9% per month11.0% per year
19950.8% per month9.0% per year
19940.7% per month8.0% per year
19930.8% per month9.0% per year
19920.9% per month11.0% per year
19911.0% per month12.0% per year
19900.9% per month11.0% per year
19890.8% per month9.0% per year
19880.7% per month8.0% per year
19870.8% per month9.0% per year
19860.8% per month9.0% per year
19850.8% per month10.0% per year
1984 9.0% per year
1983 14.0% per year
1982 17.0% per year
Prior to 1982 8.0% per year

York College of Pennsylvania

York College Students Create Podcast to Research and Discuss the Golden Venture

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Students in the “Podcasting the Past" class created an eight-part series that delves into the harrowing journey of the cargo ship that smuggled 286 Chinese immigrants into the United States in 1993.

Hours before the sun rose on June 6, 1993, a cargo ship ran aground in Queens, New York. Nearly 300 Chinese immigrants–men, women, and children–had spent four tumultuous months trekking halfway across the world to escape persecution, violence, and a repressive regime. Instead of freedom, detention greeted the refugees. Over 100 of them were housed at York County Prison, some for years.  

Students in York College of Pennsylvania’s “Podcasting the Past” class, taught by Associate Professor of History Jacqueline Beatty, Ph.D., spent the 2024 Spring Semester delving into that story, turning their classroom into a storytelling hub. Through an eight-part podcast series titled “Golden Dreams,” students explored the dramatic and poignant stories of the passengers aboard the Golden Venture. 

The series, released in late May, explores the harrowing journey and the subsequent struggles of the 286 Chinese citizens who sought asylum in the United States. The idea for the series developed when the York Bar Association, which worked with the immigrants after they were detained, reached out to the College.

“The York Bar Association approached one of my colleagues to ask if they had an interest in having students digitize their materials on that topic,” Dr. Beatty says. “I asked if they could use the source files for a podcast.”

Unexpected refugee support

The Golden Venture incident marked a significant moment in American immigration. A couple of podcast episodes put the events into historical context. According to Dr. Beatty, the ship ran aground on Long Island three months after the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City by Islamic terrorists, which killed six people and injured more than 1,000. Xenophobia was rampant, and the refugees were detained in part as an example for other refugees considering a similar effort. 

Those who supported the detainment assumed that the refugees would be forgotten once they were out of the public eye. Instead, the York community came out to support the detainees. For years, protestors on both sides of the political aisle took to the streets, often to oppose the detainment. 

The students gleaned many details from the Bar Association papers, such as the fact that several of the passengers left China to flee its repressive one-child policy for families and stories about authorities destroying family homes before their eyes, people being brutally beaten, and women forced to undergo sterilization. 

Students also gained information through interviews with those involved in the original incident, including lawyers and protesters. The podcasting course aimed to immerse students in experiential learning, equipping them with skills that extend beyond traditional historical research. 

“We love to do project-based learning to get students involved in creation and production. They were using the same skills and methods used in our history classes–research and critical thinking and writing–but they were also creating something for the public. It has a kind of higher purpose,” Dr. Beatty says.

‘An amazing experience’

The project was not without challenges. Students had to manage their time effectively to produce a comprehensive podcast series in a single semester, all while conducting thorough research and interviews and maintaining high production quality. They worked with Jeffrey Schiffman, Lecturer in Communication and WVYC radio station manager, to learn how to operate podcasting equipment and editing software. 

Benjamin Werkley ’26, a Public History major, played a multifaceted role in the project, helping with research, writing, script revision, editing, and recording of audio for two episodes and the series trailer.  

“It was amazing to get to work with the original legal documents used by the lawyers involved with the Golden Venture. It was an amazing window into almost every aspect of this story,” he says. “Conducting the interviews with the people involved with the Golden Venture was fascinating.” 

He recalls an interview with York-based attorney Jeffrey Lobach, managing partner and CEO at Barley Snyder, who represented a passenger involved in the pro-democracy movement in China. The young man fled his hometown and hid on a farm after the Chinese government cracked down on the movement. Eventually, he left for the United States aboard the Golden Venture, seeking the freedom he had fought for in China. 

Such poignant narratives deeply influenced Werkley’s understanding of the immigrant experience and the harsh realities and political exploitation that many asylum seekers faced.

Alumnus Alaina Crowell ’24, a Public History major, and research partner Ryn Johnson ’25, a History major, approached their episode from a different angle. They conducted research separately, then used the recording session as an opportunity to teach each other what they had learned.  

“The idea was that we’d be learning alongside listeners,” they say.

Future opportunities

The project opened Crowell’s eyes to the systemic issues surrounding immigration, illuminating the fact that government officials at all levels and in both parties continue to vilify immigrants for political gain, regardless of the ethics of the situation. 

Dr. Beatty hopes the podcast series will gain traction and attention in and beyond the academic community. She believes that what the students most want listeners to understand is the paradoxical nature of the American dream and the prospects versus the reality of immigrating to this country.

Through “Golden Dreams,” York College students not only have honed their skills in historical research and podcast production but contributed to the broader conversation about immigration and human rights. Their work is just one aspect of majoring in Public History, which incorporates interdisciplinary studies to provide career and professional training for jobs in museums, archives, national parks, and other public-facing, history-rich outlets. 

“Come join us!” Dr. Beatty says. “We’re not just reading and researching history. We’re creating it!”

The eight episodes of “Golden Dreams” can be found at  https://goldendreams.podbean.com or on most major podcast apps. Show notes and transcripts can be found at  https://ycphistpolisci.com/golden-dreams-podcast/ .  

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How to create unforgettable stays for your vacation rental guests

Knowing your guests and their expectations is crucial to creating the best possible experience for them. Small but meaningful touches can go a long way – even before they’ve set foot in your property.

53% of global bookers expect free parking when booking a vacation rental

Good housekeeping ranks high, with 51% of global travelers wanting a freshly made bed and 48% looking for regular cleaning

34% of travelers expressed a wish to hear hosts’ tips for local restaurants and events, and 32% would like to see local maps and guidebooks

Host welcoming guest holding a suitcase

As a host, you play a leading role in ensuring your guests have a memorable trip, from beginning to end. Following a recent survey of 32,300 travelers across 32 markets globally, we’ve identified some key travel trends for those who plan to book a vacation rental in 2024 (15,916 respondents), including what’s expected free of charge during their stay. From must-have amenities to personal touches, dig into these insights to score more bookings and increase your chances of repeat visitors.

Make arrivals hassle-free

While not all travelers drive to their destinations, those who do like the convenience of on-site parking. 53% of global bookers expect free parking when booking a vacation rental Croatian, German, and Dutch travelers value it even more. 

If you don’t have parking at your property, make sure you can direct guests to a nearby alternative. Ideally, one that’s free or subsidized as part of their stay.

Likewise, guests will be traveling from all over the globe to your front door. This often leads to some irregular arrival times. With an on-site lockbox, you’ll make their lives easier. Rated the fourth most important amenity for global travelers, 24-hour check-in is important for younger generations (millennials and Gen Z) in particular. 

Want to discover more vacation rental trends?

Hear from leading industry experts and discover more insights from our exclusive global traveler research.

Think about the little things

When it comes to offering a home-away-from-home environment, complimentary facilities and essentials are a hit. Toiletries like soap and shampoo score 45% globally. This was followed by luggage storage (34%) and a stocked fridge or pantry (30%).

Staying connected with a smart TV and streaming services is also desirable for 45% of global travelers. You don’t have to make a big investment in amenities to give guests a great experience. Attention to certain details can make visitors feel like they're getting a good value and first-rate hospitality. Start with the basics before tackling the pricier items.

Don’t underestimate cleanliness

Understandably, guests expect a certain level of housekeeping when they arrive at your property. Over half (51%) of global travelers want a freshly made bed, and 48% expect regular cleaning as part of the package. Interestingly, they’re clearly not afraid of doing their share of the housework, with a third of global travelers (33%) saying they’d like cleaning supplies available to use. Don’t worry about hiding the supplies. 

For all hosts, staying on top of housekeeping is key. Whether you do it yourself or save time and energy by outsourcing it , get it right and the results will speak for themselves. Cleanliness sets the tone for a guest's entire stay, ensuring comfort and peace of mind. You’ll stand out for all the right reasons.

Infographic what travellers expect when staying at a holiday rental

Share your local knowledge

Personalize your guests’ visits by giving them your own recommendations. Pass on your local knowledge and win over the 34% of global travelers who say they appreciate hosts’ restaurant and event tips. Similarly, 32% also like to have access to local maps and guidebooks, while 23% of guests appreciate meeting their host at check-in.

 Staying in a new area is exciting but can also be daunting for newcomers. When time is tight, guests don’t want to waste it figuring out where not to eat or visit. An in-person greeting or some recent dining recommendations can make the difference between a good stay and a wonderful one.

Keep guests entertained in all types of weather

A simple way to go above and beyond is to provide the right provisions. 36% of travelers worldwide say outdoor space is expected for a vacation rental stay. Meanwhile, outdoor supplies—such as a grill, seating, and kids equipment—wins over 18% across the 32 markets. Even if your property only has communal outdoor spaces and facilities, don’t forget to showcase it on your listing. 

If you don’t have any outdoor space, don’t worry. First, just manage guests’ expectations before arrival. Second, suggest some attractive spots nearby that they might like to see, like parks or landmarks. 

Of course, no matter where your vacation rental is, sunshine isn’t guaranteed. Prepare for rainy days and lazy afternoons with indoor activities like board games and gaming consoles. Our data shows that 20% of global travelers want these to be included with their stay. 

Creating incredible experiences boils down to anticipating and exceeding expectations. Guests want comfort, cleanliness, and convenience, along with personal touches that make them feel at home. By prioritizing communication, attention to detail, and thoughtful amenities, you can ensure unforgettable stays that will leave guests eager to return and recommend you to others.

* Research was commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample of adults who’d taken a trip in the last 12 months and planned to take a trip in 2024. The sample comprised 15,916 respondents across 32 markets who indicated that they plan to stay in a vacation rental in 2024. Respondents completed an online survey in January or February 2024.

Not listed on Booking.com yet?

Discover more about how listing on Booking.com will give your vacation rental business a boost.

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Beyond Basics: Unveiling the Secondary Benefits of Sponsorships

July 10, 2024    

This report from SponsorUnited outlines the multitude of secondary benefits that come from strategic sponsorships.

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how to create secondary research

IMAGES

  1. 15 Secondary Research Examples (2024)

    how to create secondary research

  2. Process of Conducting Secondary Research

    how to create secondary research

  3. Secondary Research: Definition, Methods & Examples

    how to create secondary research

  4. How to do Secondary Research

    how to create secondary research

  5. Secondary Research Process Handouts Rubric

    how to create secondary research

  6. Advantages of Secondary Research

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VIDEO

  1. What is Primary & Secondary Sources In Research paper // Thesis 🗒

  2. How to be a Good Researcher? Urdu / Hindi

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  4. Participatory Research Fund: Building Courage

  5. Research Methodology

  6. Secondary Research

COMMENTS

  1. What is Secondary Research?

    Secondary research is a research method that uses data that was collected by someone else. In other words, whenever you conduct research using data that already exists, you are conducting secondary research. On the other hand, any type of research that you undertake yourself is called primary research. Example: Secondary research.

  2. Secondary Research: Definition, methods, & examples

    Secondary research, also known as desk research, is a research method that involves compiling existing data sourced from a variety of channels. This includes internal sources (e.g.in-house research) or, more commonly, external sources (such as government statistics, organizational bodies, and the internet).

  3. Secondary Research: Definition, Methods, Sources, Examples, and More

    Discover the essentials of secondary research, including its definition, methods, sources, and examples. Learn how to effectively conduct secondary research, understand its advantages and disadvantages, and compare it with primary research to make informed decisions for your projects.

  4. Secondary Research for Your Dissertation: A Research Guide

    Learn how to conduct efficient and effective secondary research for your dissertation with our comprehensive step-by-step guide. Master research skills, identify credible sources, employ advanced search strategies, and integrate secondary data with primary research for a robust dissertation.

  5. What is Secondary Research? Types, Methods, Examples

    What is Secondary Research? Secondary Research refers to the process of gathering and analyzing existing data, information, and knowledge that has been previously collected and compiled by others. This approach allows researchers to leverage available sources, such as articles, reports, and databases, to gain insights, validate hypotheses, and make informed decisions without collecting new data.

  6. Secondary Research: Definition, Methods and Examples.

    Secondary research is a method that involves using already existing data. Learn about it with examples, advantages and disadvantages.

  7. What is Secondary Research? Explanation & How-to

    Secondary research involves searching for and then using existing data. This data is filtered, analyzed, summarized, and combined to increase the effectiveness of a research study.

  8. Secondary Research Guide: Definition, Methods, Examples

    What is secondary research? Learn more about primary vs. secondary research, the definition of secondary research, methods, types, and examples.

  9. What is Secondary Research?

    Secondary research is a very common research method, used in lieu of collecting your own primary data. It is often used in research designs or as a way to start your research process if you plan to conduct primary research later on. Since it is often inexpensive or free to access, secondary research is a low-stakes way to determine if further ...

  10. How To Do Secondary Research or a Literature Review

    Secondary research is also essential if your main goal is primary research. Research funding is obtained only by using secondary research to show the need for the primary research you want to conduct. In fact, primary research depends on secondary research to prove that it is indeed new and original research and not just a rehash or replication of somebody else's work.

  11. What is Secondary Research? + [Methods & Examples]

    Secondary research is a common approach to a systematic investigation in which the researcher depends solely on existing data in the course of the research process. This research design involves organizing, collating and analyzing these data samples for valid research conclusions.

  12. A guide to secondary research: methods, examples, benefits

    Secondary research, also known as desk research, is a research technique that involves the summary, collation and synthesis of existing research. In desk research, you use information that the primary research produced as your source of data, which you then analyse. This technique is a systematic investigation approach, where the researcher ...

  13. What is secondary research?

    Secondary research is the use of existing data from a reliable source to aid in solving a problem or answering a question. It is conducted by collecting existing data online or from journals, books, government websites, or library databases and can be qualitative or quantitative in nature.

  14. Secondary Research Advantages, Limitations, and Sources

    Compared to primary research, the collection of secondary data can be faster and cheaper to obtain, depending on the sources you use. Secondary data can come from internal or external sources. Internal sources of secondary data include ready-to-use data or data that requires further processing available in internal management support systems ...

  15. Secondary Analysis Research

    In secondary data analysis (SDA) studies, investigators use data collected by other researchers to address different questions. Like primary data researchers, SDA investigators must be knowledgeable about their research area to identify datasets that ...

  16. Secondary Research in UX

    Secondary research is an essential foundation for UX work, necessary to explore the problem space and scope of prior projects and to identify important questions and best practices in the field of study. It also helps to focus the scope of your own project and often saves money.

  17. How to do your dissertation secondary research in 4 steps

    A must-have student resource. This in-depth guide covers all you need to know about dissertation secondary research and how to do it in 4 simple steps.

  18. Secondary Research (Definition, Methods and Advantages)

    Discover what secondary research is, some differences between secondary and primary research, different methods, how to conduct it and advantages and disadvantages.

  19. Write Your Dissertation Using Only Secondary Research

    Secondary research is research that has already been carried out and collected by someone else. It means you're using data that's already out there rather than conducting your own research - this is called primary research. Thankfully secondary will save you time in the long run! Primary research often means spending time finding people and then relying on them for results, something you ...

  20. A Complete Guide to Primary and Secondary Research in UX Design

    Secondary research is a flexible method in the design process. It fits in both before and after primary research. At the project's start, looking at existing research and what's already known can help shape your design strategy. This groundwork helps you understand the design project in a broader context.

  21. Secondary Research (What It Is and When To Use It)

    Secondary research is information that an individual gathers from an existing source. Some examples of secondary sources include the news, academic articles and reference books. Secondary sources help researchers know what information already exists about a topic. They can use this information to learn about a subject, solve a problem or ...

  22. Primary

    This guide covers how to recognize different kinds of nursing research articles, like primary sources and experimental studies, as well as how to figure out components of the study design like independent and dependent variables.

  23. PDF Informed Consent for Secondary Research With Data and Biospecimens

    collected during a primary research protocol, for the purposes of future secondary research. The approval for use of these data and biospecimens in new research studies that are outside the scope of the primary protocol and consent (i.e., secondary research) will need to be met through other means.

  24. Secondary Research: Definition, Methods, & Examples

    This guide to secondary research helps you understand changes in market trends, customers buying patterns, and your competition.

  25. Penalties and Interest Rates

    Research & Statistics; Tax Research Library; Taxpayer Bill of Rights; Education & Outreach Education & Outreach sub-navigation. Webinars; Alcohol & Tobacco; ... Secondary Navigation Menu Taxes. File My Taxes; Where's My Refund; Make a Payment. Payment Options; Pay Delinquent Tax. Offer in Compromise;

  26. York College Students Create Podcast to Research and Discuss the Golden

    Through "Golden Dreams," York College students not only have honed their skills in historical research and podcast production but contributed to the broader conversation about immigration and human rights.

  27. How to create unforgettable stays for your vacation rental guests

    As a vacation rental host, discover how to meet and exceed your guests' expectations. Use our travel trends research to create memorable stays they'll love.

  28. Beyond Basics: Unveiling the Secondary Benefits of Sponsorships

    This report from SponsorUnited outlines the multitude of secondary benefits that come from strategic sponsorships.

  29. Half‐curcumin‐based chemiluminescence probes and their applications in

    Numerous methods have been reported for detecting ROS/RNS in vitro and in vivo; however, detecting methods for the secondary products of the ROS/RNS reactions, particularly quasi-stable oxidized products, have been much less explored. In this report, we observed that half-curcumins could generate chemiluminescence.