All researchers need to be aware of the pros and cons of the two types of research methods to make sure their selected method of research is the most appropriate taking into account the topic of investigation. The success of any dissertation paper largely depends on choosing the correct research design but before you can decide whether you must base your research strategy on primary or secondary research; it is important to understand the difference between primary resources and secondary resources.
Here is an article on Most Commonly Employed Research Methods in a Dissertation
According to UCL libraries, primary sources are articles, images or documents that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony pertaining to any given topic of research. Researchers want to have a clear understanding of the information resulting from actions under investigation. Primary sources allow them to get as close as possible to those events so their analysis and interpretation can be recognised in scientific and academic communities.
However, when the researcher wishes to analyse and understand information coming out of events or actions that have already occurred, their work is regarded as secondary source. In essence, no secondary source can be created without using primary sources. The same source of information or evidence can be considered either primary or secondary depending on who is presenting the information and where the information is presented.
Classic examples of primary sources include;
Some examples of secondary sources are;
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Below you will find detailed guidelines to help you make an informed decision if you have been thinking of the question “Should I use primary or secondary research in my dissertation”.
Primary research includes an exhaustive analysis of data to answer research questions that are specific and exploratory in nature. Primary research methods with examples include use of various primary research tools such as interviews, research surveys, numerical data, observations, audio, video and images to collect data directly rather than using existing literature. Business and organisations throughout the world have their employees or an external research agency conduct primary research on their behalf to address certain issues. On the other hand, undergraduate and postgraduate students conduct primary research as part of their dissertation project to fill an obvious research gap in their respective fields of study.
As indicated above, primary data can be collected in a number of ways, and so we have also conducted an in-depth research on the most common yet independent primary data collection techniques.
When conducting primary research, it is vitally important to pay attention to the chosen sampling method which can be described as “a specific principle used to select members of population to participate in the research”. Often times, the researcher might not be able to directly work with the targeted population because of its large size, and so it becomes indispensable to employ statistical sampling techniques where the researchers have no choice but to draw conclusions based on responses collected from the representative population.
The process of sampling in primary data collection includes the following five steps;
Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded that primary research is the most appropriate choice for any research that cannot rely on past and already published researches.
When conducting primary research, not only the researcher is able to gather responses, but the nonverbal communication and gestures play a huge role. They help the researcher identify the various hidden elements which cannot be identified when conducting secondary research.
One important aspect of primary research that researchers should look into is research ethics. Keeping participants’ information confidential is a research responsibility that should never be overlooked.
Secondary research or desk based research is the second type of research you could base your research methodology in a dissertation on. This type of research reviews and analyses existing research studies to improve the overall authenticity of research. Secondary research methods with examples include use of secondary sources of information including journal articles, published report, public libraries, books, data available on the internet, government publications, and results from primary research studies conducted by other researchers in the past. Unlike primary research, secondary research is cost effective and less time consuming simply because it uses existing literature and doesn’t require the researcher to spend time and financial resources to collect first hand data.
Not all researchers and/or business organisations are able to afford significant amount of money towards research, and that’s one of the reasons this type of research is the most popular in universities and organisations.
Secondary research involves the following five steps;
If you aren’t sure about the correct method of research for your dissertation paper, you should get help from an expert who can guide on whether you should use Primary or Secondary Research for your dissertation paper.
When choosing between primary and secondary research, you should always take into consideration the advantages and disadvantages of both types of research so you make an informed decision. The best way to select the correct research strategy for your dissertation is to look into your research topic, research question, aim and objectives – and of course the available time and financial resources.
Discussion pertaining to the two research techniques clearly indicates that primary research should be chosen when a specific topic, case, organization etc. is to be researched about and the researcher has access to some financial resources. Whereas secondary research should be considered when the research is general in nature and can be answered by analyzing past researches and published data.
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