Desk research

Desk research is so called because it refers to that type of research data that can be acquired and worked upon mainly by sitting at a desk. That is to say, it is research data that already exists, having been produced for some other purpose and by some other person or body. It is commonly referred to as secondary research because the user is the secondary user of the data and this term reflects the fact that it may not precisely meet the user's need or be sufficiently recent to be wholly useful. Desk research makes a good starting point for any research programme because it is generally quick and cheap to acquire and can be readily assimilated. Whilst a scan of appropriate desk research sources may not produce an answer to the problem, it is extremely useful as a familiarization process and in generating ideas that will help to formulate and refine any subsequent collation of primary data. The range of electronic services that have been developed, including the Internet, extends the ability of the desk researcher to assess a wide range of material.

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