The main difference between primary and secondary data is that primary data is a type of data researchers directly collect from main sources, while secondary data refers to already existing data produced by the previous researchers. Moreover, the data collected through primary sources are more reliable and accurate than the data collected through secondary sources. In other words, primary data are more reliable and accurate than secondary data.
When it comes to the world of research, data collection plays an essential role. Researchers use different methods to collect data, and all the data they collect fall under two main categories: primary data and secondary data.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Primary Data
– Definition, Features
2. What is Secondary Data
– Definition, Features
2. Similarities Between Primary and Secondary Data
– Outline of Common Features
3. Difference Between Primary and Secondary Data
– Comparison of Key Differences
Primary Data, Secondary Data
What is Primary Data
Primary data is a type of data researchers directly collect from main sources. A researcher produces primary data for the first time with direct efforts and by acquiring experiences. Through this data, he or she attempts to analyze and address his/her research problem. Raw data is another name for primary data. Compared to collecting secondary data, primary data collection is relatively expensive. This is because it demands more resources like manpower and capital investments.
The process of primary data collection usually happens under the direct supervision of the researcher. Researchers usually use methods like observations, surveys, questionnaires, physical testing, online questionnaires, personal or telephone interviews, case studies, and focused group discussions on collecting primary data.
What is Secondary Data
Secondary data refers to the second-hand information which is already recorded by other researchers other than the user for different purposes. Secondary data includes readily available sources of data such as books, reports, journal articles, censuses, internal records of the organization, websites, and government publications.
Compared to primary data, secondary data is easily accessible. Therefore, it does not waste much time and costs less for the researcher. Since secondary data is gathered for varying purposes, they might not directly address the user’s research problem. Hence, compared to primary data, the usefulness, accuracy and relevancy of the secondary data are questionable.
Similarities Between Primary and Secondary Data
- Both primary and secondary data are two methods of data collection highly useful in any field of research.
- They are studied by different researchers to address their research problems.
Difference Between Primary and Secondary Data
Primary data is a type of data researchers directly collect from main sources, while secondary data refers to already existing data produced by the previous researchers.
Primary data includes real-time data, whereas secondary data is related to the past.
While primary data is collected to address a current research problem, secondary data was primarily collected to address previously existed research problems and can be used to address the current research problem as well.
Accessing primary data includes a relatively long process while referring to secondary data is quick and easy.
Data Collection Tools
Primary data collection tools include observations, surveys, questionnaires, physical testing, online questionnaires, personal or telephone interviews, case studies, and focused group discussions, while secondary data collection tools include journal articles, websites, books, government publications, records, etc.
The main difference between primary and secondary data is that the primary data is collected by a researcher for the first time while secondary data refers to already existing data produced by previous researchers. In addition, data collected through primary sources are more reliable and accurate than secondary sources. This is because primary data always addresses the researcher’s needs in contrast to the secondary data, which is not specific to the researcher’s need.
1. “What Is Primary Data? + [Examples & Collection Methods].” Formplus, 15 Jan. 2020.
2. “Secondary Data.” MSG Management Study Guide.
1. “Survey-interview-questionnaire” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “Books, reading, read, knowledge, study, training, page, wisdom, book, history” (CC0) via Pxfuel