Primary vs. Secondary Research: The Pros and Cons

By definition, research is systematic investigation designed to obtain information on a given subject area with the aim of answering questions and reaching conclusions. While several different means of categorizing research exist, one key distinction is “primary” vs. “secondary”. Here we take a general look at primary and secondary research, focusing on what they are, the differences between them, and the benefits and disadvantages of each.

What They Are

Several fundamental differences exist between primary and secondary research:

Primary research is new research and is done to collect original data. Individuals who conduct primary research do so in a number of ways. In the case of scientific research, these may include laboratory testing, experimentation, etc.

Secondary research is based on research that has already been conducted. It involves collecting, synthesizing, and analyzing data previously generated and collected via primary research methods. Individuals who do secondary research may utilize data obtained from a wide range of sources, including scholarly journals, scientific reports, textbooks, government documents, meta-analyses, research databases, and more.

Pros and Cons

Primary and secondary research each offer several key benefits and disadvantages:

Pros and Cons

  • Pros: Perhaps the greatest advantage of primary research is that it allows the researcher to obtain original data that are current and highly specific to his or her needs.
  • Cons:  Because of the processes involved, primary research can be very time-consuming, sometimes requiring months or even years. It can also be a very costly process.

Secondary Research

  • Pros: As it is largely based on already existing data derived from previous research, secondary research can be conducted more quickly and at a lesser cost.
  • Cons: A major disadvantage of secondary research is that the researcher may have difficulty obtaining information specific to his or her needs. Additionally, existing research data may not have the currency necessary to be useful.

A Solution to a Problem in Secondary Research

By its nature, most scientific research is primary. There is, however, almost invariably a supporting secondary component involved, as nearly all scientific studies require the evaluation of existing research information to some extent. In the case of secondary research, the problem of being able to obtain information quickly and inexpensively at the possible risk of lacking necessary relevance and currency is one that often can be hard for researchers to reconcile. For professionals who conduct research on chemical hazard, toxicological, and other aligned topic areas, ToxPlanet offers a solution to this problem. Encompassing more than 275 databases, covering nearly 1 million unique compounds, and including more than 9.4 million documents, ToxPlanet provides one-stop access to a wealth of content and data essential to a wide range of industry users, including researchers. ToxPlanet’s extensive, up-to-date content means users have access to the most current data possible, and its unique EXPERTIndex ensures that results are 100% relevant to the topic searched.

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