Few years back “secondary research” meant having to search through abstracts and research articles and signified looking for published information in print sources. Sources of print information included data gathered by government agencies, reference materials put out by industry associations, trade magazines, newspapers, newsletters and book indexes. Now, of course, secondary research is done through internet and also includes electronic sources such as CD-ROMs, subscriber database. There is vast data available from these sources, although not as well-organized as the print world.
Secondary research is the easiest and cheapest form of research because the research data is already published. Secondary research can be split into internal and external research.
Internal Secondary Research
For any organization information can be a useful tool for decision making since it provides strategic information on different aspects of Business Sources to internal research include: Past research conducted, product sales data, customer usage, comments and complaints, and sales, research and development staff.
External Secondary Research
In todays internet age, most of the information is produced via research conducted for other purposes, financial performance data, expert opinions and analysis, competitive intelligence firms, etc. Leading sources for external secondary research resources include: Newspapers/Magazine articles (business and vertical trades), newsletter, industry reports, Business Directories , Government statistics publications & websites and Search engines.
Secondary research through internet
There are a number of search engines that can be useful in searching the internet. There are a massive number of Web pages on the Internet provided by various governments, organizations, libraries, research institutions, and individuals, etc.
Advantages of Secondary research
Secondary research helps when you do not have much information to start with, whether information is about market, industry or a company, you can find most of the information at very low cost. It is possible you usually won’t find everything you need, but each piece of information that somebody else has already researched that you do not have to find out for yourself. Following are the advantages of secondary research:
1) By accessing statistical information that has already been published online, secondary research can often be done quickly.
2) Most information can be obtained at no or low cost.
3) Information can generally be obtained with ease by persons with a limited research background or expertise.
4) The information can be used to add value to other research methods.
Disadvantages of Secondary Research
Secondary research provides very good starting point, but often it will not get you all the information you need. For example it is possible to get information on market size and growth trends through Secondary Research but it is not likely to give a clear and complete picture of competitors or enough customers for success of a product. It is also a fact that published information is not always accurate.
To sum up, secondary research can be useful in many cases, but it rarely does the whole job. Depending upon your business needs, you can plan the best way to approach your information needs and according to that you can opt for secondary and primary research.