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Disadvantages of Secondary Research – A Definitive Guide

Published by at October 19th, 2021 , Revised On August 29, 2023

Secondary research is referred to as desk research because it implies collecting data from the Internet, journals, books, and public sources such as government repositories, or public and private libraries.

The study design of the research encompasses collecting a variety of different data sets and analysing them empirically in order to obtain research findings.

The aim is to evaluate pre-existing patterns from previous studies and adapt them to their own research setting. Although secondary research is quite useful, it has certain disadvantages.

Read more about the advantages of secondary research

Read more about the advantages of primary research

Read more about the disadvantages of primary research

Disadvantages of Secondary Research

Let’s take a look at the six most common disadvantages of secondary research mentioned below.

  1. Quality of the Secondary Data
  2. Out-dated Data
  3. Missing Information
  4. Availability of the Secondary Data
  5. Relevance of the Secondary Data
  6. Adequacy of Data

1. Quality of the Secondary Data

A study conducted with primary methods is monitored by the researchers themselves to a large extent. In contrast, this is not the case for data obtained from other sources (secondary sources). For this reason, the quality of secondary research should be carefully evaluated, as the origin of the information may be suspect.

Companies and researchers that rely on secondary data for decision-making need to closely examine the authenticity and reliability of the information by investigating the way the data was collected, analysed, and interpreted.

Secondary data may seem like a cheap and time-saving option, it is important to consider the source of the data and thus its authenticity and credibility. In other words, a disadvantage may be that the source is unreliable and calls into question the results of your own research.

Also Read: The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Research

2. Out-dated Data

It is important to be cautious while using secondary data that has been attained in the past. Out of date information can be of limited use to researchers who are conducting researches in the fast-changing markets and research areas.

3. Missing Information

A researcher often finds that an interesting study is simply a “teaser”. In such a case, only a limited part of the research is made public free of cost. It is quite obvious that the researcher will need to view the full report to obtain the missing information, but the publisher could charge a fee to provide access to the full report.

4. Availability of the Secondary Data

When taking into consideration the uses of secondary data, it is imperative to ascertain whether or not the data is available on your chosen topic, population, or variables. If secondary data is not in relevance to your requirements, primary data must be used despite its disadvantages.

5. Relevance of the Secondary Data

It is important to check the relevance of the data before using a secondary dataset. For instance, if the dimensional units do not match those required by the researcher for their study, or the ideas presented are somehow different from the ones that are required for the current study, then secondary data may be rendered as irrelevant for a new study. A serious downside of secondary data is the use of data that is not relevant.

6. Adequacy of Data

Secondary data may be alluring, but there is a risk that the amount and the relevance of data will not be sufficient to meet your research objectives. In other words, before you decide to do secondary research, you need to make sure that there is enough data on the topic at hand to meet your research questions.


While secondary research has some substantial disadvantages, if the data obtained are checked for their feasibility, reliability, and suitability for the research project at hand, they can still be of great use for your own research.

Need Help with Secondary Data Collection?

If you are a student, a researcher, or a business looking to collect secondary research for a report, a dissertation, an essay, or another type of project, feel free to get in touch with us. You can also read about our secondary data collection service here. Our experts include highly qualified academicians, doctors, and researchers who are sure to collect authentic, reliable, up to date and relevant sources for your research study.

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Frequently Asked Questions

To perform secondary research:

  1. Define research objectives.
  2. Collect existing data and sources.
  3. Analyze scholarly articles, books, and reports.
  4. Extract relevant information.
  5. Compare and synthesize findings.
  6. Properly cite sources used.

About Jamie Walker

Avatar for Jamie WalkerJamie is a content specialist holding a master's degree from Stanford University. His research focuses on the Internet of Things, as well as areas such as politics, medicine, sociology, and other academic writing. Jamie is a member of the content management team at ResearchProspect.