Assessing secondary data
11/8/10 / David Kennedy
Our research work at Corona, more often than not, involves primary research, or gathering original data for the question(s) at hand. However, this is often only the case because there wasn’t already data gathered previously (i.e., secondary data) that could answer the question.
Secondary data can save you significant time and money when conducting research and should be an early step in the research process before taking on new research. Is there publicly available or academic research? Will the Census shed light on my market? What do my sales data and customer databases tell me? Are there additional insights to be gained from previous focus groups and in-depth interviews (qualitative research can often be overlooked as a source – if you have the original notes, transcripts, videos, etc. it can be reanalyzed for the topic at hand). All of these are good places to start. But when deciding if secondary data is appropriate for your particular research question, consider the following:
- What was the original goal in collecting the data?
- What structure is the data in for additional analysis?
- Who collected the data?
- How (methodologically) was it collected?
- When was it collected?
Answering these questions and understanding the implications will help you make an informed decision on whether to use the data you have or gather additional data.