What Are the Key Differences Between Primary and Secondary Research?

What Are the Key Differences Between Primary and Secondary Research?
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


Understanding the difference between primary and secondary data is critical to helping you conduct research and launch a new product or service.

Doing so is time-saving, cost-efficient and it ensures a better output.

Let us understand the basic difference between primary and secondary research.

What is Primary Research?

It is the research in which you conduct by yourself. You can also pay another party, such as a research firm, to conduct primary research for you.

You need to target, modify, and narrow down your research parameters, to get the credible information you need from the study.

Although this process is essential, it is often costly, time-consuming, and energy-intensive.

Examples of primary research are:

  • Focus groups: A focus group is an interview in a small group setting. You will have a conversation with several individuals in your target market simultaneously, instead of individually receiving input from one person. Throughout the session, you get inputs from people in the group, as well as through their interactions with others in the group.
  • In-depth Interviews: A one-on-one discussion with a primary research subject is an in-depth interview, where the discussion can be an in-person interview, telephonic, or a remote one.  An interview is a perfect way to understand the participant's views on the subject and it helps gain insight. It is harder to conduct a good quality interview than it might look. Therefore, it is best to ensure that you are properly trained before attempting it.
  • Observation: Observation refers to tracking concepts and patterns such as the behavior of an individual, a customer, their acts, or their purchasing habits.
  • Surveys: Surveys are useful for obtaining data from a wider audience. Generally, they consist of a series of close-ended questions, but they may also contain several open-ended questions that facilitate more comprehensive input from participants.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary research or desk research method involves using data that already exists. Existing data from research is gathered and summarized to augment the overall effectiveness of the research.

A key advantage of secondary data analysis is that the wheel is not being reinvented by anyone.

You can depend on knowledge and research outputs already gathered and published by others. Research materials published in research reports and similar documents are used in secondary research.

Public libraries, blogs, information gathered from previously filled surveys, etc., can make these documents accessible.

Some government and non-government organizations often store information that can be used and extracted from them for research purposes.

Secondary research is much more cost-effective than primary research.

Unlike primary research, it uses existing data, where data is collected first-hand by organizations, corporations, or a third-party firm can be delegated to collect data.

The most common types of secondary research sources include:

  • Analyst reports
  • Customer emails, surveys, and feedback results
  • Internet search
  • Prior internal focus groups
  • Published studies
  • Recordings of interviews or meetings
  • Data available on the internet
  • Government and non-government agencies
  • Public libraries

Differences Between Primary and Secondary Research

Here is a summary of the key differences between primary and secondary research methods:

Primary research

Secondary research

  • Primary research is based on raw data
  • Secondary research is based on tried and tested data that is previously analyzed and filtered.
  • Research is conducted first hand to obtain data. The researcher “owns” the data collected.
  • Data collected from previous researches forms the basis of the study.
  • Although primary research is important,it takes up a lot of time
  • Secondary research is less time consuming and effortless in comparison.


Why is Transcription Necessary for Research?

Researching can be a tedious job. Transcription can help you to conduct your research efficiently and effortlessly.

You can transcribe the interviews after you have done primary research, irrespective of whether you perform an interview directly, over the phone, or virtually.

Collaborating with firms providing transcription services can enable you to create flawless and versatile transcripts.

Advantages of transcription include:

  • Transcription gives a written record of your research: A written, text-based document of a recorded audio qualitative research interview gives you more options for analyzing, storing, and sharing data.
  • Transcription helps you save time: Having a digital, typed transcription of a research interview will help you find the facts faster. 
  • Transcription keeps your research accurate: Transcription enables you to adhere to the standard protocol that qualitative research requires, including credibility, context, and transferability.
  • The transcribed files take up less space: Storing text uses less memory than storing audio and is available in more formats. 

Want to learn more information regarding qualitative research transcription services?

Contact us at GMR Transcription Services, Inc., or check out our website. We transcribe accurate, high-quality research transcripts within a short turnaround time.

Our service range also includes document transcription, academic transcription, and education transcription services.

Read Also: Why You Should Hire a Transcription Company for Research Purposes

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.