Secondary quantitative research is a research method that involves the use of existing data or secondary data. Existing data is summarized and collated to increase the overall effectiveness of the research. This research method involves the collection of quantitative data from existing data sources such as the Internet, government resources, libraries, research reports, etc. Secondary quantitative research helps validate data that is collected from primary quantitative research, as well as helps to strengthen or test or refute previously collected data.

Secondary data analysis, according to Wood (1964), is a convenient and powerful tool for researchers looking to ask large-scale, broad questions. While it does have its benefits, such as its cost effectiveness, breadth and depth of the data it provides access to, secondary data analysis can also compel researchers to either modify their original question or work with a data set that would not otherwise it would be ideal for your goals.

Research Methods with the Use of Secondary Data

According to Callejo and Vietma (2005), there are five popularly used secondary quantitative research methods:

  1. Data available on the Internet: With the high penetration of the Internet and mobile devices, it has become increasingly easy to conduct research using the Internet. Information on most topics is available online, and this helps increase the validity of the primary data. At the same time, it helps to test the relevance of previously collected data.
  2. Government and Non-Government Sources: Secondary quantitative research can also be conducted with the help of government and non-government sources dealing with market research reports. These data are highly reliable and detailed and can therefore be used to increase the validity of the research.
  3. Public Libraries: It is a little used method to carry out quantitative research, but it is still a reliable source of information. Public libraries have copies of important research that was done previously. Therefore, they are an important repository of information and valuable documents from which information can be extracted.
  4. Educational institutions: they carry out in-depth research on multiple subjects and, therefore, the reports they publish are an important source of validation in quantitative research.
  5. Sources of business information: Local newspapers, magazines, magazines, radio and television stations are an excellent source for obtaining data. Sources of business information: Local newspapers, magazines, magazines, radio and television stations are an excellent source for obtaining data.

Uses of secondary data

Although all the data is intended to provide information for analysis, secondary data can be used in various ways depending on the context and the conduct of a research project. Accordingly, they can be useful for:

  • Identify the research problem.
  • Develop a strategy to arrive at solutions to the problem.
  • Develop a strategy to arrive at solutions to the problem.
  • Formulate an appropriate research design.
  • Find the answers to certain research questions or test some hypotheses.
  • Interpret primary data.
  • Validate the results of qualitative research.
  • Identify possible problems.
  • To obtain background information and improve the credibility of the study.
  • Secondary data evaluation.

Secondary Data Analysis Methodology

The investigator has to analyze secondary data with the same caution as he analyzes any primary data. You have to check if you can access the data and if it can help you reach the research objectives. Therefore, the investigator must evaluate factors such as the sampling procedure, sample size, response rate, and data analysis methods.

Furthermore, the specifications and methodology are often not presented in detail to the researcher. As a result, it is often very difficult to assess the accuracy of the secondary data. But, the researcher could verify through triangulation. For example, you can conduct secondary investigations followed by observation interviews and focus groups. Thus, both qualitative and quantitative research can be included. There are also other aspects to consider:

Information Update

Because secondary data is associated with events that have already occurred, they are generally out of date. Therefore, the researcher has to analyze the date of data collection and the relevance of the data with respect to existing situations.

Purpose of data collection

Secondary data is probably data that was collected for some other purpose or objective than that of the investigator who is now addressing it. The investigator must assess to what extent data collected for another purpose is appropriate and relevant to the current situation or problem.

Reliability and credibility of the source

The investigator must consider factors such as experience, credibility, and overall reliability of the source. Overall, government reports are more credible than other commercial sources of secondary data. In addition to factors such as cost and benefits, access problems and control over data quality will also be considered when evaluating secondary data.

Advantages and disadvantages of secondary data

Researchers have observed the following benefits with secondary data:

  • Fewer resource requirements
  • It is a discreet method
  • Applicable for longitudinal studies.
  • Comparative and contextual data can be obtained.
  • It leads to unforeseen discoveries

Among the disadvantages, we can highlight:

  • The purpose for which the data was originally collected may not coincide with the researcher's objectives..
  • Sometimes it can be very difficult to access data
  • The researcher has no control over the quality of the data

Although secondary data sometimes has to be purchased by an investigator looking to use it to report a study they are working on, these costs are almost always lower than the costs would be if the investigator created the same dataset from scratch.

The biggest disadvantage of performing secondary data analysis is that the secondary data set may not answer the researcher's specific research question to the extent that the research would have expected.

If an investigator intends to conduct a study with a very particular question in mind, a secondary data set may not contain the precise specific information that would allow the investigator to answer their question.

Factors that affect the result of the Investigation with the use of secondary data

To arrive at the results with the expected quality, several factors must be considered. Validity, reliability, and generalizability are important factors influencing data selection.

The generalization of the data, according to Cea D'Ancona (2012), is equally crucial. The investigator should be able to examine to what extent the sample results will also be present in the population. Therefore, the generalizability is not only associated with the data collection methods, but also with the sample design and the sampling method.

This, of course, is crucial in the development of theories and particularly in the deductive approach to research. Therefore, it is understood that these measures help the researcher to generate scientific and reproducible research results.

Objectives and purpose of the research

The objectives and purpose of the investigation have an extreme influence on the selection of the data to be used. It is true that an experienced researcher could opt for any type of alternative research methodology and data collection techniques. But each and every researcher cannot be experts in all kinds of research methods. The researcher should opt for this methodology if they have a high degree of experience and familiarity with it. This factor is the main determinant for the success of the study or investigation.

Cost and budget

Cost is an important factor in determining the choice of these methods. Mainly, the cost of the data collection method is high in many projects. Sometimes the most effective research methodology in quality and potential value can be rejected in favor of a slightly less effective research methodology that is cheaper.


The investigator should consider the time given to complete the investigation when choosing the investigation methodology. If you have assigned to a short duration project, you should not opt ​​for time-consuming data collection methods, such as large-scale surveys.


To facilitate the study, the researcher should opt for readily available and accessible research methods. Since the secondary data is already available, it is very easy to collect it. Sometimes the data may not be available. In this case, it is necessary to choose an alternative method to collect data.


Secondary data analysis offers methodological benefits and can contribute to research by generating new knowledge. The general objective of this method is the same as that of others: to contribute to scientific knowledge by offering an alternative perspective. It only differs in its dependence on existing data. Researchers should take advantage of the high-quality data that is available and consider the potential value of gaining knowledge.

However, successful secondary data analysis requires a systematic process that recognizes the challenges of using existing data and addresses the distinctive features of secondary analysis. The process provides a systematic process that includes steps to follow to avoid potential limitations At a time when the vast amounts of data collected, compiled, and archived by researchers around the world are now more accessible, the time has definitely come for secondary data analysis as a viable method of research.

At, we know how difficult it can be to face a large amount of information and not know how to classify it efficiently. Whether you use primary data or secondary data, we can advise you how to conduct your research so that it can meet the proposed objectives.

Bibliographic references

Callejo, J. y Viedma, A. (2005). Proyectos y estrategias de investigación social: la perspectiva de la intervención. Madrid: McGrawHill Interamericana.

Cea D'Ancona, M. (2012). Fundamentos y aplicaciones en metodología cuantitativa. Madrid: Editorial Síntesis.

Wood, G. (1964). La clave para el estudio y la escritura de la historia. USA: Houghton Miffin.

Secondary Data

Use of Secondary Data in Research



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