How to do your Dissertation Secondary Research
To best understand secondary research, we first have to define primary research and distinguish the two. Primary research is where the researcher directly collects data from the original sources and influences the methods and techniques used in gathering the data. Secondary research, on the other hand, comprises of data that has already been collected by other researchers and is stored in existing publications like books, journals, articles, television/radio broadcasts, official reports, among others.
Secondary research is very vital to a dissertation and is used in the literature review and the methodology chapters of a thesis. The literature review is developed solely on secondary research by developing and drawing already established ideas and theories that you intend to use in your paper. For the methodology section, the study will be based on secondary data, which has already been collected and published by other researchers.
The process of doing your secondary research for your dissertation can be broken down into four main steps.
- Develop the research questions. Like other forms of research, secondary research begins by formulating the research questions. This goes beyond just knowing the purpose of your study. Developing and narrowing down to specific research questions helps you identify the area of research that you will focus on and establish the secondary data that you will use. Often, you will find a pool of secondary data to use, but having the right questions helps you choose and collect the most authentic data.
- Identify the Secondary data set to use. The research questions will guide you through the process of identifying the most suitable and relevant data. The most appropriate data is the one that directly answers the research questions.
- Evaluate the secondary data. Evaluating the data means assessing the suitability of the data and how much it aligns with the research questions. Identify alternative data and add more if you deem necessary.
- Prepare and analyze the data. If you are satisfied that the secondary data is sufficient enough to address the research questions, the next step is to prepare and analyze the data. Preparing the data involves outlining all the variables of interest that you intend to use and identifying and addressing any missing data. Lastly, choose the most appropriate techniques and use them to analyze the secondary data with the goal of answering the research questions. These techniques could either be qualitative or quantitative methods or both.
Sometimes, secondary research is used in place of primary research. It can also be used in conjunction with to complement primary research.