Skip to main content
Asked a question recently

Difference Between Primary and Secondary Data

Where am I?

In CollegeBound you can ask and answer questions and share your experience with others!

Definition of Primary Data

Primary data is data originated for the first time by the researcher through direct efforts and experience, specifically for the purpose of addressing his research problem. Also known as the first hand or raw data. Primary data collection is quite expensive, as the research is conducted by the organisation or agency itself, which requires resources like investment and manpower. The data collection is under direct control and supervision of the investigator.

The data can be collected through various methods like surveys, observations, physical testing, mailed questionnaires, questionnaire filled and sent by enumerators, personal interviews, telephonic interviews, focus groups, case studies, etc.

Definition of Secondary Data

Secondary data implies second-hand information which is already collected and recorded by any person other than the user for a purpose, not relating to the current research problem. It is the readily available form of data collected from various sources like censuses, government publications, internal records of the organisation, reports, books, journal articles, websites and so on.

Secondary data offer several advantages as it is easily available, saves time and cost of the researcher. But there are some disadvantages associated with this, as the data is gathered for the purposes other than the problem in mind, so the usefulness of the data may be limited in a number of ways like relevance and accuracy.

Moreover, the objective and the method adopted for acquiring data may not be suitable to the current situation. Therefore, before using secondary data, these factors should be kept in mind.

Key Differences Between Primary and Secondary Data

The fundamental differences between primary and secondary data are discussed in the following points:

  1. The term primary data refers to the data originated by the researcher for the first time. Secondary data is the already existing data, collected by the investigator agencies and organisations earlier.
  2. Primary data is a real-time data whereas secondary data is one which relates to the past.
  3. Primary data is collected for addressing the problem at hand while secondary data is collected for purposes other than the problem at hand.
  4. Primary data collection is a very involved process. On the other hand, secondary data collection process is rapid and easy.
  5. Primary data collection sources include surveys, observations, experiments, questionnaire, personal interview, etc. On the contrary, secondary data collection sources are government publications, websites, books, journal articles, internal records etc.
  6. Primary data collection requires a large amount of resources like time, cost and manpower. Conversely, secondary data is relatively inexpensive and quickly available.
  7. Primary data is always specific to the researcher’s needs, and he controls the quality of research. In contrast, secondary data is neither specific to the researcher’s need, nor he has control over the data quality.
  8. Primary data is available in the raw form whereas secondary data is the refined form of primary data. It can also be said that secondary data is obtained when statistical methods are applied to the primary data.
  9. Data collected through primary sources are more reliable and accurate as compared to the secondary sources.
Difference Between Primary and Secondary Data