There are times when secondary data is the sole source available for researchers. Secondary data can be a tough source to use in research, but there are several instances that can cause secondary data to be the only sources available. This article will discuss why secondary data is the sole source for some researchers.
Some researchers might find that their sole sources are secondary data depending on what is being researched. If a researcher is inquiring about sales statistics than they will have to look to business reports. Business reports are a compilation of data that is put together with something in mind (Cooper & Schindler, 2006). Compilations of data are classified as secondary sources because they are made up of information that is interpreted for a purpose.
Another reason that secondary data may be the sole source for some researchers is because of the time in which they are researching. This may also be the situation for those researching historical events. Reference books may be the only sources available if the historical events have happened very far in the past or there are no primary resources available any longer. An example would be research done about a business that has lost all of their files in a fire.
Another example of a situation where timing might cause a loss of primary resources. Historical texts are not always available to the public. These types of sources may also not be available if time has caused a loss of the documents detailing the information. For instance many ancient texts are no longer available because of wars.
Some examples of management questions for which secondary data sources are probably the only ones feasible are as follows:
What are the differences between company sales in the months of December and January?
What is the average revenue of the company in the past 3 years?
What is the amount of returning customers in the past 3 years?
Secondary data may be the only available source for some researchers. Time and the type of information being researched play a direct role in this situation. In times where data is gained from compiled reports, secondary data is being used. Secondary data is also used when historical researches are occurring and primary sources do not exist.
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2006). Business Research Methods (th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.