Dissertation Secondary Research

Dissertation Secondary Research

How to Do Your Dissertation Secondary Research in 4 Steps

If you have taken your time to read through this guide then it means you are in the processes of doing your dissertation or thesis.

As compared to the primary research, dissertation secondary research is easier and simple.

It is simple in such a way you can follow the four steps to understand it completely.

The reason why secondary research is easier as compared to that of primary it’s because it does not involve a lot of research and effort.

When you look at the primary research you have to ensure you have participants, you prepare the measures, and collect data.

You do not have to do this in secondary research.

Despite the fact that secondary data is simple it is important you know how to go about it.

The reason why we have written this guide is for the purposes of helping you to understand how to do disserttaion secondary research

On this guide, we will be able to cover the basics of secondary data and tell you all about it.

We should also discuss the secondary research process in 4 steps.

After that, we will be able to highlight the summary of our guide

What you need to know about secondary research

Understanding secondary research

Before understanding what secondary research is all about, it’s important we remind you about primary research and its concept.

Data collection by the researchers themselves is called primary research.

In primary research real-time data is used.

When data is collected on a specific period of time of the project this is called real time.

Secondary research is about using data that was collected by someone else before.

Most people refer to secondary research as past data.

Secondary research is easily accessible.

For example, you can find this research in government records, offline content, online platforms, and from past researches.

In secondary research you have to analyze, interpret, and review the past data you will be using.

How the researcher uses secondary research is by interpreting and showing how it is applying to his current research.

Using dissertation secondary research in your research is very simple because the researcher is not involved in data collection.

You will be able to save a lot when it comes to time and money when you use secondary research.


primary Research

Secondary Research


Primary research is about the collection of data during the project period

Collection of previous data







Researcher involvement

More involved

Less involved

Data type


Past data


The researchers themselves do the research

Conducted by someone else


Address specific needs of research

Indirectly addresses needs in a research

Pros of secondary research

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of a research is very important when working on it.

Secondary research is that it is affordable

This means as compared to the primary data which requires you to spend a lot of money in compensating your participants and other costs, secondary research does not require this.

You will also be required to pay money for the travels in primary research which is not required in secondary research.

The only thing that the secondary researcher may require could be money to buy secondary data sets which does not cost much.

It is also important to consider using the available data which you do not require to pay for.

Secondary data saves you time

When using primary research you require a lot of time.

You have to make sure you have questionnaires; you do interviews with different participants.

You are then supposed to do the cleaning up of the data set and then analyze the results.

This can take months or even years to complete your research.

When using dissertation secondary research you only need to look for information that you require from the existing data sets so that you can analyze it.

Time is much spent in primary research because of training and getting participants while secondary data is easy and accessible.

Secondary data is easily accessible

When it comes to obtaining secondary data sets you will not need a lot of time since the data is accessible.

Due to technological advancement looking for what you want has become so easy.

You do not require to spend a lot of hours in the library doing research for secondary data.

The availability of search engine has made secondary data to be easily accessible.

You can also contact various researchers through their emails and get whatever content you want from them.

With secondary research, you can use a large scope of data

There is so much available for you when working with secondary research.

This cannot apply in the primary research because you need to stay in one scope so that you finish your project on time.

When you use a large scope of data in primary research it may take a year to finish the project that could be finished in few months.

Secondary research involves professional data

Since you’re using data that was collected by a researcher it means that it was analyzed, cleaned up, and therefore what you are using is professional data.

If you collect the data yourself the probability of errors and mistakes would be higher since you are not an expert in this area as compared to researchers that are professionals.

Cons of secondary research

It may be inappropriate for your research purposes

The reason why the secondary research may seem inappropriate is because you are not the one that collected the data.

The reason why collecting data yourself is important is because you are trying to answer ascertained the research question.

When you collect data yourself you will obtain the information that you require only and leave out the rest.

When it comes to secondary data most of the information you will get may not help you since the research had a different objective in mind while collecting it.

The information you collect may not be completely reliable in your secondary research and you may require to get a large scope of data for you to get what you are looking for.

For example, you may find that the secondary data has a different population as compared to the one that you are researching.

The data you may be using may have a different layout from what you need

For example, you may want to continuously variable in a specific add atom but you find categorical variables instead.

Search differences may make the secondary data inappropriate for your research.

This means there may be a probability of you not getting answers to your research question with the secondary data.

The reason why you may not get the answer to the question or question is due to the fact that secondary data was put together by researchers who had something else in mind.

This acts as a limitation to your research

You have no control over secondary data quality

Not every secondary data that was collected by a researcher is reliable and valid for your research.

You may find whenever awaiting the secondary data it has some errors and sometimes cannot be relied on.

You cannot be able to change the quality of the data that you are using in secondary research because it was the final research of them, researcher.

There may be insufficient information in secondary research

The researcher may not provide all the information required on how they did their research.

Some information may be lacking and this may be a disadvantage to your secondary research.

For example, the data collection methods may not be enough and the sampling representatives may have issues.

Techniques and functions of secondary research

  • You can use isolation technique in secondary data set.

When you use the isolation method you will not combine this method with any other.

  • Combination of to data sets can help you get appropriate information.

When you want to relate to variables having two datasets is advisable.

  • You may also choose to involve your research projects both primary and secondary data.

When you combine the two type of data that is primary and secondary it is applicable when you want to get information to give directions to primary research

The following table summarizes the techniques and functions of secondary research.



Isolation technique of secondary data

For the purposes of reassessing dataset that has contrasting research question the researchers mind

Combination of two secondary data set technique

To investigate the association that is there in the variables of the two data sets.

Differentiating the findings found from two past data.

Combination of both primary data set and secondary data sets

To obtain extant knowledge to guide the primary research you are working on.

Secondary data types

In this research, we have two types of data that is ;

The qualitative data type

The quantitative data types

This means that secondary research can either be conducted through the two data types

The quantitative type of data is used to show the degree or the extent to which a variable is affecting research.

As compared to qualitative secondary research quantitative secondary research is more used.

Despite the common use of quantitative data you can still consider using qualitative data in your research.

Qualitative data is used for testing information that was obtained through qualitative research.

This information helps in the implementation of a quantitative methodology.

The table below shows the types and their purposes of secondary data




For the purposes of informing current researches with the collected past data

Helps in reassessing the past data


Used to give guidance to current research with past data.

Used in reassessing the past data set

Sources of secondary data

They are internal and external sources of data.

Internal sources of secondary data

Data within the organization setting is said to be internal data source.

When you consider using the past data of that organization then you will use the internal data source.

The ease of access and inexpensiveness of the internal source of data makes it affordable

External sources of secondary data

Data that is collected outside the organization you are doing your research on is known as external data.

This data is collected by someone else and you get to obtain it.

The comprehensiveness of external source of data is an advantage to researchers

When you compare the internal sources of data with external sources of data the external ones may require money for you to obtain it therefore it can be a bit expensive.

The internal sources types

  • Sales
  • Human resource
  • Cash flow report
  • Profits and revenues
  • Customers information

The list is endless but it is important to know that external sources come from a specific institutions you are basing your research on.

Types of external sources

  • Government sources; social survey, demography, government expenditure and many others
  • National institutions; banks, colleges and universities
  • International institutions; trade unions.
  • Trade professional associations and businesses
  • Journals

Processes of secondary Research

At this point, you should be able to have clarity on secondary research in general.

Now we are going to put our focal point the processes of secondary research.

We shall discuss each step in a way that you will be able to understand to help you as you do your own research.

Development of a research question

When you consider other researches they all begin with a research question development and secondary research is not an exemption.

For those students who are doing an undergraduate thesis the supervisor always provides a specific research question for you.

For other researchers, it is up to you to arrive at a research question.

It is important that you have a specific area that you are researching on.

Get to understand where your research is falling to have a right perspective of your research question.

When you have a general topic concerning your research area it is important that you consider reading the existing literature concerning the topic.

When you read through you will be able to see the gap that you can feel in your research.

When you’ve done your study on the interested topic and come up with the literature gap from the readings ensure you get a specific question for your research.

Distinguish a secondary data set

It is important that you begin your research with what is already known concerning the topic you will be researching on.

Identify the knowledge and information that is missing on the topic.

For you to be able to do this you require to consider the data type that was gathered previously concerning the topic in question.

After reading through the literature and getting a research question it’s at this point that you need to rely on the secondary data.

You can rely on the secondary data if it is connected to your research in such a way you can use it to answer the research question.

You will be able to get past data by reviewing literature that talks about your topic.

From the literature review, you will be able to get useful secondary data sets that will be helpful.

It is important that you consider getting permission from the author so that you can comfortably use they are data.

If you are relying on the internal source of data then you do not required to get permission from the author.

It is important to understand your research question so that you can be able to get a good secondary data set to fit the question.

It is also important to give a specific reason as to why you have considered relying on the secondary data.

Assessment of the secondary data set

Assessing secondary data sets is essential because there are some drawbacks of this data that may influence the rationality and trustworthiness of the studies.

Approaches to evaluating secondary data

  • Get to understand the focus of the primary study

Identifying the main focus of the primary study when evaluating secondary data is essential.

The reason why you need to do this is that the author had a different context of the research.

It is important because you will understand the research purpose and question of the original study.

Getting to know your own investigations is also key.

One of the reasons as to why you need to observe this is because the primary researcher most of the time have a clashing research question from yours thus being able to understand this difference is very important.

It is important that you consider how your research differs from the center of the primary study

It is of essence to ensure that the secondary data you are considering will be able to answer your research question.

In case this does not happen you can consider different secondary data sets.

You can also consider using primary research.

  • Who has collected the data?

Asking yourself who collected the data is important for reliability purposes.

It is also important that you understand the affiliation of their author institution.

In asking who collected the data it is important to see the extent of trust the professional researchers had on their research.

You can consider getting this information on the online platform because you will be able to get it so quickly.

  • Which measures were employed?

Since you are doing professional research it means it was conducted professionally.

This means you will be able to access information you need pertaining to this research.

You will be able to get the measures the procedures the sample characteristics and also the protocols that were used in the research.

If you cannot find this document on the final research report you can consider contacting the author so that you can get it.

Understanding the type of data that was collected during data collection is also essential.

Also, get to know the reliability and validity of the measures that were taken.

Ensure that you also outline the data type that was collected which is relevant to your research.

  • When was the data collected?

It is important to differentiate between outdated data and the one that is relevant for you at the time.

Outdated data may not be relevant to your research.

This means there’s no point in reusing the data.

While selecting data choose data that was collected within five years time.

  • Find out the techniques that was used to collect data

It is important that you evaluate the methodologies that were employed on the secondary data set.

Get to know how samples were obtained.

When you do this you will be able to know what samples were representing what.

You will be able to detect any missing responses to the measures that were used.

The importance of evaluating is, if there is anything missing you may be limited to get the right information for your research.

  • Make a final evaluation

When you consider the highlighted steps it is important that you get to understand the standards of the secondary data set you are using.

  • Measure the value of your secondary data.

To answer the research question sufficiently you need to measure the value of the secondary data

Prepare in addition to analyzing secondary data

In this step, you will first outline all the variables that you will use for your study.

After the evaluation of all the variables, it is important that you transfer this data into an Excel file or SPSS.

As you transfer this data it is important to ensure there is no alteration of any kind.

After outlining all the variables it is important that you address any missing data.

You can consider recording any variables if need arises.

You will also find yourself creating new variables for the purposes of completing the final scores.

After this is done you can now analyze the data collected.

Consider various analysis techniques so that you can be able to select one that is suitable for the secondary data set.

For qualitative you will find that the procedure of formulating and analyzing secondary data is somehow divergent from the quantitative one.

For the qualitative type, you will find that you can consider drafting questionnaires for the purposes of analysis.

You can consider employing statistical analysis to analyses the data which is the final step.

To summarize this I believe you comfortably work on your secondary research without excuses.

From our guideline, I know you have realized the simplicity of secondary research

When you read through the guidelines carefully you will be set to do your own secondary research without struggling.

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