Reference and Education

All You Need to Know About Secondary Data Collection Methods

Data collected by someone else is secondary data collection. It is also known as “second-hand” data. This data type lacks the involvement of the researcher. The researcher does not get the information himself. The researcher uses existing pieces of information in the study. The information gathered is relevant to the topic under study. The underlying purpose of this data type is that it saves the time of the collector. It also saves the cost of gathering data.

The researcher accesses information with ease too. It allows the researcher in getting insights through the analysis of previous studies. It is more suitable for longitudinal studies. In longitudinal studies, the period is greater. With a better time frame, secondary data is convenient to use. The researcher then analyses data by applying different techniques. This type of data has several benefits. The secondary data presents gaps in existing research studies. It also highlights how future work can overcome them.

Common Sources of Secondary Data Collection

A variety of ways exists for collecting secondary data. They are mentioned as follows;

  • Books
  • Records
  • Annual financial reports
  • Newspapers
  • Census data
  • Statistical data
  • Articles
  • Journals
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Databases
  • Published Thesis
  • Websites
  • Records
  • Biographies

Secondary Data Collection Aspects

  • Data can be collected from different sources.
  • The sources must be credible.
  • The data collection may be linked to published documents.
  • Some individuals officially release published documents.
  • Government bodies and publishing houses release published documents.
  • Secondary data is readily available to use.
  • Data collection can also be from unpublished documents.
  • No one officially, or unofficially releases unpublished documents.
  • It is not readily available for use.

Is Published Data Credible?

  • It is such a piece of information that has some credibility.
  • It is credible to use.
  • The credibility is present because authentic bodies accept this data.
  • Authentic bodies then publish it on their own responsibility.
  • The credible sources may be public officials, and government bodies.
  • The data is not in a review process.
  • They can be journals, peer-reviewed articles, and annual reports.
  • Besides, this data can include both statistical, and historical documents.

Is Unpublished Data Credible?

  • The data is not published through a credible source.
  • The data may be stuck or involved in a review process.
  • It is not a way of credible data gathering.
  • In reality, the data is under a publishing process.
  • It may include the letters, diaries, and bibliographies.

Is Secondary Data Qualitative, or Quantitative?

According to a dissertation help firm, the secondary data can be both quantitative and qualitative. Qualitative data is found in the form of qualities, attitudes, and opinions. From existing annual reports, interviews, and articles, qualitative data is gained. Secondary data can also be found in the form of quantities. It is gathered from financial reports, surveys, and more. Hence, secondary data collection can be both quantitative, and qualitative.

Is Literature Review (LR) an aspect of secondary data collection?

The Literature Review is always a secondary data collection aspect. It is because someone else gathers, and then processes it. Besides, it is the past data. For example, you are exploring existing, and prior research studies on Nepotism within the workplace. Someone else gathers and processes data on this topic. This will come under the aspect of prior studies. For present research studies, the data is a Literature review aspect for the researcher. Hence, Literature Review comes under secondary data collection.

Social Sciences based Secondary Data Gathering

Social Sciences uses secondary data. It provides past data that is available for any topic. It also evaluates through comparison, and analysis. The ways of gathering social sciences’ secondary data are highlighted as follows;

  • Organisational Records.
  • Qualitative data collection.
  • Quantitative research.

Importance of using Secondary Data Collection Methods

Sometimes primary data is difficult to collect. The cost, resources, and time are high in gathering of the primary data. Besides, respondents are not willing to provide secondary data aspects. The rationale for adopting secondary data collection is that background information is present. A relevant literature review, and published reports on the topic under study also exist. The context is present. It means that the researchers don’t have to re-validate data before re-using it. The researcher has to execute the research for obtaining meaningful insights. For primary data collection, secondary data gathering aspects establish a baseline. With this baseline, the researcher compares the primary data’s results. Hence, to start a research activity, one should first review secondary data that is available.

Advantages of using Secondary Data Collection Methods

Secondary data collection has many advantages, which we have discussed below;

  • The data is conveniently accessible.
  • It is the least expensive method for data collection.
  • Also, it is a source of less worry and irritation to the researcher.
  • It requires less time by the researcher.

Drawbacks of using Secondary Data Collection Methods

There are various advantages of using secondary data collection for research. But there are some drawbacks with this data collection aspect as well. These drawbacks are as follows;

  • The drawback of secondary data is that it is not authentic.
  • It sometimes exhibits incompleteness because of a lack of relevance.
  • Also, it is inappropriate as it does not fully address the needs of a
  • It is not in a specific format specified for the study.
  • Reliability and accuracy issues arise in secondary data collection.
  • The researcher’s involvement is low regarding data collection.
  • The data with time becomes old and the least useful.
  • Sometimes, it affects quality of the research.
  • It requires extra care and responsibility in data handling.
  • A researcher has to use secondary data with permission of the creator.
  • It is capable of causing permission and copyright issues as well.


A variety of secondary data collection sources exist. Journals, annual reports, and articles are key sources for data collection. Newspapers and government publications are also valid sources of secondary data collection. The advantages of secondary data collection are numerous. For instance, it consumes less time on part of the researcher. The data is conveniently accessible. Besides, it is the least expensive method for data collection. The importance of secondary data lies in its background information. The drawback of this type of data is that it is not authentic. It sometimes exhibits incompleteness because of a lack of relevance. At times, it is not specific to the need of a study either.

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