Types of Data: Primary and Secondary data

There are many ways of classifying data.

A common classification is based upon who collected the data.

Primary data: Data collected by the investigator himself/ herself for a specific purpose.

Examples: Data collected by a student for his/her thesis or research project.

(In movies) The hero is directly told by the heroine that he is her “ideal man”.

Secondary data: Data collected by someone else for some other purpose (but being utilized by the investigator for another purpose).

Examples: Census data being used to analyze the impact of education on career choice and earning.

(In movies) The hero reads a fictional account of the heroine’s “ideal man” (written for a course in English composition) that seems to describe him accurately. He seeks confirmation from his friends, concluding that he is her “ideal man”. (He never asks her directly, but assumes the “facts” are correct).

Some Advantages of using Primary data:

  1. The investigator collects data specific to the problem under study.
  2. There is no doubt about the quality of the data collected (for the investigator).
  3. If required, it may be possible to obtain additional data during the study period.

Some Disadvantages of using Primary data (for reluctant/ uninterested investigators):

  1. The investigator has to contend with all the hassles of data collection- 
  • deciding why, what, how, when to collect
  • getting the data collected (personally or through others)
  • getting funding and dealing with funding agencies
  • ethical considerations (consent, permissions, etc.)

2.   Ensuring the data collected is of a high standard-

  • all desired data is obtained accurately, and in the format it is required in
  • there is no fake/ cooked up data
  • unnecessary/ useless data has not been included

3.   Cost of obtaining the data is often the major expense in studies

Some Advantages of using Secondary data:

  1. The data’s already there- no hassles of data collection
  2. It is less expensive
  3. The investigator is not personally responsible for the quality of data (“I didn’t do it”)

Some disadvantages of using Secondary data:

  1. The investigator cannot decide what is collected (if specific data about something is required, for instance).
  2. One can only hope that the data is of good quality
  3. Obtaining additional data (or even clarification) about something is not possible (most often)

Useful Link

Link to revised article on primary and secondary data:

https://communitymedicine4asses.wordpress.com/2015/10/29/review-primary-and-secondary-data/

Advertisements

124 thoughts on “Types of Data: Primary and Secondary data

    1. drroopesh Post author

      Did you mean types of primary data sources?
      If so, then the answer would be:
      1. Direct observation
      2. Questionnaires (self-administered)
      3. Surveys (interviewer administered)
      4. Experiments
      Hope this helps.
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Petazoms,

      I’m sorry I didn’t understand your question.

      I understand that English may not be your first language, so allow me to explain myself.

      You wish to know “the” 10 examples of numeric data. “The” implies there are only 10 examples of numeric data. In reality, there are many more. Therefore, I wonder if you are actually asking about sub-classification of numeric data?

      Please let me know if this is merely a grammatical error.

      Here are 10 examples of numeric data:
      1. Height in centimetres
      2. Weight in kilograms
      3. Marks in an exam
      4. Votes polled in an election
      5. Bullets in a packet/ gun
      6. Rabbits in a forest
      7. Ants per square metre
      8. Colonies per culture plate
      9. Fish in a lake
      10. Stars in the sky

      As for the other two, you simply need to apply the information provided in the post.

      Any data collected by the investigator him/herself is primary data; Data collected/ obtained from other sources is secondary data.

      Let me know if you have difficulty creating your own lists.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
        1. drroopesh Post author

          Dear Someone,

          There are types/ methods of Primary Data collection; and sources of primary data, but no types of Primary Data.

          The methods/ types of primary data collection would include:
          Observation
          Experimentation based research
          Questionnaire/ survey based research
          Interviews

          Please read the following links:

          http://readingcraze.com/index.php/types-of-primary-data/

          http://classroom.synonym.com/types-primary-data-4719.html

          I hope this helps.

          Regards,
          Dr. Roopesh

          Like

          Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Ahmed,

      Secondary data cannot be converted to primary data.
      By definition, secondary data are data collected by someone else. One may choose not to disclose that the data are secondary, but doing so will not change the fundamental nature of the data- it will manifest the limitations of such data nevertheless.
      I would recommend acknowledging that a given data set has been obtained from secondary sources, rather than falsely claiming otherwise. Of course, one must divulge the details of the source, too, in interest of full disclosure and transparency.

      Note: The above response is based upon my interpretation of your question. I suspect you actually wish to ask something else, but unless you rephrase the question, I will not be able to offer a more appropriate response.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  1. Andrea

    Hi, I am writing a Theoretical Thesis. It is going to be based on Secondary Data.
    Which approach should I go with – Qualitative or Quantitative ?

    My Specialization is on Logistics and Supply Chain. Any opinion and suggestion would be highly appreciated. Thanks.

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Andrea,

      As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend working with quantitative data. You may discuss qualitative aspects as well, but generally quantitative stuff trumps qualitative data (except in the social sciences, where some areas require more of a qualitative approach).

      The best piece of advice I can give you is this: Do whatever your Guide recommends!

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  2. Andrea

    Dear Dr. Roopesh,
    Thanks for the reply. I have two additional questions. Perhaps I am a bit confused and you would be able to clarify my doubts.

    1/ You mentioned about “Quantitative Approach” – But how would I measure the data for the Secondary Research since Quantitative deals with numbers and data right ? Without considering Qualitative Approach would it be possible ?

    2/ I am thinking of working on Green Supply Chain. Under these circumstances while doing a Secondary Data Research (Is company websites, publications, journals, reports, research done in this field is considered Qualitative ?)

    The entire thesis would be based on secondary data. I wont be taking any interviews of online surveys.

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Andrea,

      You may use secondary data sources, but if the variables are quantitative, you will have to perform quantitative analysis.
      For instance, if a company reports a certain profit margin/ initial cost of investment/ etc. you are dealing with numbers.
      You could analyze the average cost of implementation/ impact on profitability across sectors, etc.- all these would require a quantitative approach.
      When the WHO analyzes health data obtained from countries, it, too is dealing with secondary data.
      However, it analyzes the secondary data using quantitative methods to generate statistics that hold true at the global/ country level.

      Qualitative essentially involves feelings, opinions, emotions, etc. that cannot (easily) be quantified.

      I hope this helps clarify your doubts.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  3. Rahul Singh

    @Andrea-Great question.
    I’m going through with the same dilemma. I am an MBA student and trying to prepare my proposal on Influence of Marketing Mix of Samsung Mobiles.
    But my Supervisor advised me to go with qualitative approach. I am extremely confused on this. Can someone please explain.

    As a student one of the problem that we encounter is the disagreements between the researcher and supervisor. It needs to be sorted out since there are supervisors who often offers you the independence of your chosen topic whereas there are others who are extremely adamant and does not allow to focus on something without their own interest.

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Rahul,

      Till you complete your course, follow what your guide recommends. You cannot afford to offend him/ her.
      Once you are eligible to guide students, you may implement your ideas without any restrictions.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Solomon,

      Both primary and secondary data can be used in research. However, one must explicitly inform that the data is secondary (if using secondary data), and mention the source.

      The reason is simple- one cannot possibly collect all the data required for research oneself. Therefore, secondary data sources will have to be used in at least some areas. Depending upon the feasibility of collecting primary data, one may do so as well.

      I hope that clarifies your doubt.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  4. Dave

    Hello Dr. Roopesh,
    Although my question is not directly based on your blog but in other words it is somehow inter-connected.

    As an MBA student – During the Thesis defense, what sort of questions can you expect from your supervisors ? Are they going to be based on the Thesis ?

    Final question would be – Should the Power Point Slides be created according to the Thesis ? Does it gives a short summary of the overall thesis ?

    Thanks.

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Dave,
      Apologies for the delayed response- I was preoccupied with an important project.
      The questions would be based on your thesis.
      The powerpoint slides should also be created according to the thesis. The slides should briefly and succinctly communicate the essence of your research- the question, methodology, results and implications.

      I hope this response is not too late to be of any use to you.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  5. Shamal Kamal

    Hi Dr. Roopesh,,

    as I’m a master student in environmental management, my desitation on comperative case study in domestic waste management system between tow different county in tow different country, would you be able to let me know what are my objectives?

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Shamal,

      I am not an expert in environmental management.
      If I must provide any assistance, you will have to provide some more information- what is your research question, what is the proposed methodology, etc. for example?
      Have you discussed with your guide?
      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Zainab,

      Primary and Secondary data are categorized based upon who collected the data.
      The type of data is immaterial- if one conducted a focus group discussion, and obtained the participants’ opinions, it would be primary qualitative data.
      If one used a rigid questionnaire to do so, it would be primary quantitative data.
      If someone else compiled data from a focus group discussion, it would be secondary qualitative data.
      Similarly, if someone else collected questionnaire-based data, it would be secondary quantitative data.

      Essentially, quantitative and qualitative data are not inherently ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’- that depends upon who collected the data- if you collected it yourself, it is primary; if someone else did it (usually for something else/ some other purpose), it is secondary.

      I hope this helps clarify things.
      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Zinna,

      If the data is from an online survey conducted by oneself (for example), then it is primary data.

      However, if the data is published on a web site (like health statistics from WHO web site), then it is secondary data.

      Essentially, if you are directly collecting the data through a web site (your own online survey hosted on a web site), it is primary, else it is secondary.

      Any time the data are collected by someone else/ for some other purpose, it becomes secondary data.

      I hope that helps.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
      1. Nurain Ayeola

        i am a newcomer on this blog.
        i am finding the information very helpful and the teaching style quite great.
        Nurain Ayeola

        Like

        Reply
        1. drroopesh Post author

          Dear Nurain,

          Thanks for the kind words of appreciation and encouragement.

          If you find the content useful, do recommend this blog to your friends as well.

          Regards,
          Dr. Roopesh

          Like

          Reply
  6. Pingback: Review: Primary and Secondary Data | communitymedicine4asses

  7. Lelimo Vee Sylvester

    Hi Dr. Roopesh…..my name is Sylvester and I would like to ask about this:
    under methods of collecting data, there is “abstraction method” which uses secondary data. in practice, how does this work? can you please give me some examples of this method

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Minahil,

      Grouped data is more likely to be secondary data, but the categorisation as primary or secondary data is based on who collected it.

      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Eshetumohammed,

      I’m afraid I will be unable to answer your question as the tax payer categories vary from country to country, and I am unaware of the ‘tax collection problem’ you mention.

      Perhaps you could provide more details, and also search online.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  8. Douglas AYIEKO

    Hello,,, sex is an example of which type of data?,, kindly give me the types of average? 3.the patients white blood count is 8.2.this is an example of what data?

    Like

    Reply
    1. drroopesh Post author

      Dear Douglas,

      I suspect you are asking the type of variable (scale), not type of data. If so, sex is a nominal variable (scale), while white blood cell count is an example of ratio variable (scale).

      If the second question pertains to average/ mean, then the types would be arithmetic mean, geometric mean and harmonic mean.

      Do let me know if this answers your questions.

      Regards,
      Dr. Roopesh

      Like

      Reply
  9. Pingback: STATISTICAL DATA – mathisfun2blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.