Secondary desk research 421 Introduction

Secondary desk research uses data that has already been published by someone else, at some other time, usually for some other reason than the present researcher has in mind. The researcher is therefore a secondary user of already existing data that can be obtained and worked on at a desk. This accounts for its name. The most characteristic thing about secondary data is the vast amount available. Because it is so overwhelming in its range and sometimes complexity, secondary data is often overlooked as a source of research information. However, much specific data is already in existence on markets and companies operating within those markets. It is therefore worthwhile for any organization to make a determined attempt to identify relevant secondary data sources for its own use.

Secondary data is relatively quick and cheap to obtain. The growth of online services has made the process of accessing secondary data at home and overseas much faster. Once obtained, a regular series of updating information can usually be acquired from the same source. At best, secondary data may provide the complete answer to a problem. At worst, it will save the organization time and money when it comes to carrying out a piece of original field research. Secondary data can define the scope or direction of a field research survey and indicate the type and range of information that may be available. It will suggest possible methods for carrying out field research. If past research surveys are found to be too out of date for the information to be of current relevance, they may at least provide a basis for comparison with a new survey replicating the method. This will give the added insight of market change data to an original piece of research. There are several possible sources of published secondary data.

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