Primary vs. Secondary Research

  • November 11, 2020

  • Eyes4Research

Primary and secondary research remains essential to gaining important insights regarding business best practices and strategies. Understanding how and when to use these techniques helps organizations stay ahead of the competition through data-driven decision making. Here is a rundown of both research methods. 

Primary Research

The primary research methodology involves direct data collection by researchers, allowing for an in-depth analysis of the subject matter using qualitative and quantitative methods to develop or prove hypotheses. Primary research gives organizations full ownership over the data collected, providing businesses with a competitive edge. Personal access to the most recent and relevant industry data allows decision-makers to better assess problems and opportunities for effective solutions.

Primary Research Examples:

Primary research involves conducting quantitative and qualitative research for accurate data analysis. Eyes4Research’s blog explains the difference between these methods to help researchers optimize their data. Here are examples of primary research methods. 

Surveys: Surveys effectively collect quantitative data from large numbers of participants. This technique allows researchers to ask carefully crafted, closed-ended questions to quantify participant preferences, behaviors, opinions, and more. Surveys can be created, deployed, and analyzed using online services such as Eyes4Research’s survey platform or distributed to participants in person. 

Interviews: Interviews are a popular qualitative technique used to obtain qualitative data from a select group of participants. This method allows the researcher to ask open-ended questions to subjects to gain insight into their experiences, opinions, and preferences. 

Observations: Observational research allows researchers to view subjects in natural situations with no controlled variables to collect qualitative insights. There are two approaches to this method; naturalistic observation, where the subject is unaware of the researcher, and participant observation in which researchers interact with subjects. This non-experimental method provides insights into the actions of participants, rather than their words. 

Focus Groups: This qualitative technique collects insights from groups of people with similar characteristics. Led by a moderator, focus groups promote open discussion on topics for direct insights from selected audiences. Focus groups can be curated by the researcher or through trusted research partners such as Eyes4Research

Pros and Cons of Primary Research

One should consider the benefits and drawbacks of primary research before beginning an initiative to ensure goals and objectives align with research techniques. 


Proprietary Rights 

Organizations and researchers have full ownership over the studies they conduct, allowing entities to control how they execute and use their research. With this, primary research provides a competitive advantage over those without access to data, allowing researchers to get the most out of their initiatives. 


Primary research provides researchers with the data they need for their specific initiatives. From common to niche industries and subject matter, this research technique allows for complete personalization to obtain essential data for strategy and decision making. With this, researchers have control over all aspects of their research to find which methods and techniques best fit their overall research objectives. 


Real-time data collection affirms reliable analysis by promoting relevant insights. Unlike secondary research that may become fallible with time, primary research methodologies ensure that insights reflect the current state of subjects as they are measured. With this, researchers capture the most accurate representations of their subjects for optimal data. 


Time Consuming 

Depending on the method used, primary research may be time-consuming. From developing a research approach, finding the right participants, waiting for responses, and analyzing data, it may take days to years for researchers to obtain the necessary insights for data-driven decisions. This may also increase costs. Thankfully, online research services, such as Eyes4Research can help research initiatives stay on time and cost-efficient. 

Secondary Research 

Secondary research relies on existing resources and data, helping researchers acquire necessary information quickly and easily. The goal of secondary research is to gain a broader understanding of the subject matter, promoting more informed decision making. Because this technique uses data collected from others, researchers may face limitations regarding research relevance to their overall goals. 

Secondary Research Examples:

There remains a myriad of credible sources for researchers to use when conducting secondary research. From previous studies, literature, and even internet sources, it has become easier than ever to access tried and tested data. Here are a few examples of secondary research sources.

Online Resources

The internet provides researchers with billions of possible sources from all over the world at one’s fingertips, providing a low-cost, efficient approach to secondary research. When searching for information, one must consider the credibility of websites to avoid inaccurate data. 

Case Studies 

Case studies are a reliable source of information that helps researchers look at specific problems and how they were solved to help them apply solutions to similar areas. 

Books and Publications

From textbooks, ebooks, magazines, and journals, researchers can find virtually everything they need using this source of secondary research. With resources accessible both online and at local libraries, books and publications simplify the search for insights for the efficient execution of research initiatives. 

Commercial Sources

Commercial media sources provide a plethora of information for researchers to enhance understanding of specific subject matter. From newspapers, journals, magazines, podcasts, radio shows, and television broadcasts, there are plenty of options for a myriad of research needs. When using commercial sources, researchers must take into account possible bias’ and misleading information to protect the integrity of their data. 

Government Agencies

From geographic and census information, access to whitepapers, and reports, government sources offer reliable information to help researchers gain necessary insights. 

Pros and Cons of Secondary Research

When considering secondary research, one must consider the factors below to ensure this technique supports research initiative goals. 



Secondary research may be ideal for those on a budget, as researchers do not have to pay to conduct a study or compensate participants for their time. Despite this, some research studies charge a fee to obtain information.


Secondary research provides immediate access to data, as researchers do not have to develop an initiative or wait on results. With many resources available online, this method requires little to no travel, making it exceptional for those with geographic limitations. 


Lack of Specificity 

By using existing resources and data, researchers are unable to alter initiatives to fit their individual needs. Because of this, studies may not take into consideration all the variables needed to obtain accurate insights. 

Information Validity 

The year a study is published may affect research validity. For some research initiatives, using secondary research published years prior provides inaccurate insights that are not reflective of the current state of the subject matter, hindering the ability to make informed decisions.