It is important to understand the problems that can occur with secondary data research so that a researcher will be able to deal with these problems. Secondary data is often the only data a researcher can find on certain topics, and this can inevitably cause a problem for researchers. This article will discuss problems with secondary data research and how to deal with it.
The problem of secondary data quality that a researcher must face is verifying and determining the value of the secondary sources the researcher would like to use (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Researchers who use secondary sources must make their best efforts to verify the accuracy of the information. For example, a researcher who cites a newspaper article about a court hearing should dig further to verify the information. To do this they may need to get transcripts of the court hearing. It may not always be easy to verify secondary data in research, but every effort must be made in order to prove the credibility of the sources being used in any research.
Researchers must also determine the value of secondary sources at times. If no primary sources are available a researcher must use secondary sources. In order to use credible secondary sources and retrieve honest and accurate information a researcher must validate the sources by evaluating them thoroughly. To evaluate secondary sources a researcher must consider the purpose, scope, authority, and audience that the information is based on (Cooper & Schindler, 2006, Ch. 7). Determining these factors will help a researcher choose secondary sources that have strong value.
Secondary data is a source that many researchers will have to use at times. Using secondary data as the only available resource can cause problems of verification and credibility. This makes a researcher’s job harder. Although the use of secondary resources can bring extra work, it must be done at times. For a researcher to get past the problems of credibility presented by secondary resources a researcher must take steps to verify secondary sources. A researcher must also make well thought out judgments on secondary resources if they want their research to appear credible and valid. Understanding the problems with secondary research data is the first step in determining how to deal with these problems.
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2006). Business Research Methods (th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.