Introduction, Meaning and Nature of Secondary Data

01/09/2022 0 By indiafreenotes

Secondary data refers to data that is collected by someone other than the primary user.  Common sources of secondary data for social science include censuses, information collected by government departments, organizational records and data that was originally collected for other research purposes. Primary data, by contrast, are collected by the investigator conducting the research.

Secondary data analysis can save time that would otherwise be spent collecting data and, particularly in the case of quantitative data, can provide larger and higher-quality databases that would be unfeasible for any individual researcher to collect on their own. In addition, analysts of social and economic change consider secondary data essential, since it is impossible to conduct a new survey that can adequately capture past change and/or developments. However, secondary data analysis can be less useful in marketing research, as data may be outdated or inaccurate.

Sources of secondary data

Secondary data can be obtained from many sources:

  • Censuses and government departments like housing, social security, electoral statistics, tax records
  • internet searches and libraries
  • gps and remote sensing
  • km progress reports
  • journals, newspapers and magazines

Administrative data and census

Government departments and agencies routinely collect information when registering people or carrying out transactions, or for record keeping usually when delivering a service. This information is called administrative data.

It can include:

  • Personal information such as names, dates of birth, addresses
  • information about schools and educational achievements
  • information about health
  • information about criminal convictions or prison sentences
  • tax records, such as income

Nature of Secondary Data

1) Data reliability

The secondary data that is to be used should be reliable. The data connection analysis should be done and questions like who collected the data, what were the sources of the collected data, when was the data collected and what were the methods used to collect it, what’s the desired level of accuracy achieved and if there any bias by the compiler.

These are the primary questions that need to be answered before using any data. Answering these questions will help to establish reliability on the secondary data.

2) Suitability of the data

The data should be suitable for the research that is to be conducted because the data that is suitable for one research may not be necessary is suitable for other research. This is why the data that is found should be scrutinized properly and should not be used by the researcher directly.

The researcher should carefully see the terms and units of collection and the time at which the data is collected from the primary source. Careful analysis will reveal the scope and the object along with the nature of the original query for which the research was conducted.

3) Data sufficiency

If the present problem of the researcher is not answered by the data then it should be considered as inadequate and should be refrained from using by the researcher. The data will not be considered sufficient if the scope of the researcher is narrower or wider than the secondary data that is collected.

It would be very risky to use the data if it simply matches some part of the query posed by the researcher because of chances of error in the present research increasing drastically.

Advantages of Secondary data

  • It is economical. It saves efforts and expenses.
  • It is time saving.
  • It helps to make primary data collection more specific since with the help of secondary data, we are able to make out what are the gaps and deficiencies and what additional information needs to be collected.
  • It helps to improve the understanding of the problem.
  • It provides a basis for comparison for the data that is collected by the researcher.