In PhD, data collection is a matter of great scrutiny. You need to have a clear perception of the primary and secondary data sources.
This article will help you to attain clear knowledge about the primary data and the secondary data, as applicable in a PhD.
According to the SAGE Encyclopaedia of Communication Research Methods, edited by Mike Allen (2017), the definition for primary data has been structured as a kind of data that get collected from real-life situations. The researcher undertakes, surveys, interviews, observations to collect the primary data from the sources of origin.
On the other hand, according to the same source, secondary data get defined as data collected from sources that are already collected by other reliable sources. These sources can be either empirical, meaning primary data from former researchers, government declarations, official records.
Research Methodology Primary Data is the kind of information gathered by scientists straightforwardly from fundamental sources. In contrast, secondary data is the information that has just been collected through critical sources and made promptly accessible for analysts to use for their exploration
To clarify these definitions, let us consider some examples.
The national census collected by a government is primary data. However, when a researcher includes the same data for initiative the research objectives, then it becomes secondary data for the researcher.
Many data collected from online databases are designated as secondary sources. These sources can be theoretical and empirical. However, when a researcher collects them to enhance the research foundation, they become secondary data for that particular research.
In a PhD research, the usability of both primary and secondary data are very significant. The process of research starts with the collection of secondary data. Secondary data are recognised as those information that are collected from the past. They are attained from databases and different critical sources like journal articles and books. This is followed by the critical review of these data in the chapter for Literature Review. The critical evaluation of the secondary data in this chapter adds knowledge to the research process. However, as the researcher attains novel ideas and knowledge, there is also the realisation that the former literature fails in meeting the current research objectives. It is here that the researcher identifies the research gaps, and adds relevance to the selected PhD topic.
Secondary to Primary Data
To meet the Research Gaps, the researcher starts considering suitable modes of primary data sources. These data sources can be availed by the researcher from real-time approaches. The researcher can attain information from a sample population or fundamental sources. In every possible way, these data must be collected by the researcher personally and not by any other researcher from the past.
The sources for the secondary data are attained from the past declaration. There are various platforms and sources that offer secondary data. these sources can be government data, organisational declarations, diary entries, libraries, internet databases, books, peer-reviewed journal articles, various statistical records, and many more sources. Check the complete list in the figure given hereafter:
Sources for Secondary Data
On the other hand, the primary data considers different previsions to collect information from the original sources. The data collection processes of primary data can be either objective or subjective, which are recognised as quantitative or qualitative approaches respectively. However, in PhD, the research can consider mixed provisions for collecting the primary data. The mixed research approach is an amalgamation of both quantitative and qualitative research approaches. Check the figure below to gain an insight into the complete process of primary data sources:
Sources for Primary Data
As noted in the aforementioned figure, the primary data can be collected from primary sources, which are represented by real-life sources, like surveys, focus group discussion, interviews, and so on.
As you pursue your PhD make sure that you understand the categorical distribution of the primary data sources, and mention the exact pathway in a very comprehensive manner. The chapter for Research Methodology must make this declaration to avoid any kind of confusions for future researchers.
The availability of the primary data is subject to the research initiative of the researcher. As it is a crude form of data it can be only collected by the researcher. It also depends on the personal choices of the participants or the original sources. These data are hard to collect and are very time and cost consuming. Thus, the availability of the primary data depends on the subject matter selected by the researcher.
On the contrary, the secondary data are found in abundance. These data are made available for public awareness. They are also meant to serve as knowledge banks for the public in general. They are not only cost-effective but also save lots of time for the researcher. Thus, the researcher can collect them from different sources and at any point in time, with much ease.
However, for a PhD, the relevance of the secondary data must get justified to the research objectives. As such justification fails and the research gaps start emerging; the researcher must consider crude or primary data for the research.
Since the primary data get collected to meet the research gaps, they are very specific. The PhD scholar must understand à Why the primary data is relevant to the research?
This question must be asked to oneself repetitively as it will lead the researcher to the next level. Based on the purpose and the aim derived from this question, the research needs to construct the questionnaire or the interview questions for the sampled sources. This is a very crucial phase as all the questions must address the purpose of the research and at the same time must meet the attained research gaps. Failure to the same can lead your research to rejection. Thus, stay very closely knitted to the research objectives or hypotheses and the research while constructing the questions for the participants or the primary data sources.
The crucial demand for the specification is mandatory only in the case of the primary data collection process. In the case of secondary data, the information are tailored to address the selected topic. Though there will be gaps, yet the research needs to consider only those aspects that can meet the research aim and objectives.
Eventually, always register that since the primary data is collected by the researcher from the grass root level, there remains no doubt about its accuracy and authenticity. In the case of secondary data, the accuracy and authenticity depend on the sources and there remains an adequate amount of ambiguity. Moreover, for reliability and validity check, the primary data undertake various provisions, whereas secondary data is free from such checks.