Difference Between Primary Research and Secondary Research (With Table)

In an ever-changing world, it is always necessary to conduct a proper search, an in-depth finding of information for exploration, elucidation and interpretation. Doing research permits one to refute the false and defend the truth. It fills the knowledge gap and helps one to adopt new and effective ways for smooth functioning and monitoring the progress. There are two ways by which the objective of Research: Primary Research and Secondary Research.

Primary vs Secondary Research

The main difference between the primary and secondary research is that the former collects first hand, original data from the source while the latter involves analysis and gathering information from primary research data, i.e., from first-hand raw data. primary research involves systematic conduction of research whereas secondary research doesn’t include any proper research.

Primary Research is referring to the record of first-hand raw data collected from the survey. It includes reaching the source of information or the field of the survey to collect the information tailored to the requirement of research.

Secondary Research is referring to the gathering and analysis of information that has already been collected from source of origin earlier. The data which is used in the secondary research had previously been collected for the other research goals.

Comparison Table between Primary Research and Secondary Research 

Parameters of
Primary ResearchSecondary Research
Conducted byPrimary Research is conducted by the person himself who requires the information. Secondary Research is not done by the researcher himself. He interprets and utilizes already published data.
SourceSurveys, door to door questioning, interviews, etc. are the sources of primary research.The researcher finds information from already gathered and published sources, such as journals, dissertations, etc.
Research objectiveIt is conducted for the collection of raw data for the specific goal at hand. It is tailored for that purpose only.The objective of secondary research is to gather information from various antecedent materials.
Cost and TimeIt involves high cost as it needs to gather from sources. And it is a time-consuming process.It is a very economical method of doing research and requires less time for assembling data.
Tools involvedThe tools used to conduct this are questionnaires, interviews etc. as it is more dependent on interaction.The tools used here are mobile, laptop and other electronic devices with internet facility.

What is Primary Research?

When the research demands the direct involvement of the researcher, it is known as Primary Research. the researcher collects raw data on his own and according to his requirement. The data collected is absolutely under the proprietorship of the researcher and is always accurate. Doing primary research, helps researchers to be in a higher position in that field. Afterwards, whenever the data collected from primary research is used by another person, who reference the former researcher increases the position of primary researcher. There’s no prior need for any skill, primary research can be done by anyone. Primary research needs to plan out cautiously and must be executed according to it.

The research is heavily driven by the purpose. As it requires obtaining data from its source of origin, it consumes lots of time and resources. It is a very expensive method of collecting data as one need to do fieldwork. Sometimes, the researcher might hire someone as per the scale and complexity of the research. It includes target market surveys and keeps the dimension of research up to the relevant boundary.

For example, surveys, Interviews, telephonic calls, focus groups, observation, etc. National levels surveys are the best example of primary research.

What is Secondary Research?

The kind of research method in which the researcher is completely dependent on previously published materials is known as Secondary Research. In this, the Researcher doesn’t carry out systematic exploration. In secondary research, the researcher uses previous published primary data. The researcher assesses the data and tailors it according to the need of research purpose. It is the more preferable methodology of research as it doesn’t require one to work on fields and conduct surveys. The convenience in form of collecting data is one of the most highlighted advantages. Secondary research is more like the process of fix steps i.e. collecting, aligning, and analyzing data to get valid concrete data to attain the goal.

It is of very low cost and doesn’t require much time to gather the information. however, this method requires the researcher to be very attentive while utilizing materials as those are not primarily done with the same objective. The data are collected from government reports, media sources, archives, etc. Secondary research can further be classified into two methods: qualitative and quantitative data collection methodology.

For example, using mobile, laptop and gadgets with the internet, having access or subscription of various sources, journals, biographies, NGOs ,articles ,etc.

Main Differences Between Primary Research and Secondary Research 

  1. The sources of primary research are interviews, telephonic calls, door to door questioning, observation, etc. It needs interaction with subjects to collect raw data. Whereas Secondary research doesn’t require any sort of interaction. It uses existing information through various sources like a library, articles, archives, etc.
  2. Primary research requires the owner himself to involve intensively in the research while there’s no such requirement in secondary research. A primary researcher might hire someone for ease of conduct but the latter doesn’t need anyone else apart from the researcher. 
  3. There’s full authenticity of data collected through primary research as he’s the one who gathered data from its origin. however, as the researcher does not participate in the collection of data from its origin, he cannot be sure of the authenticity of the data he gathered.
  4. The purpose of primary research data is to assemble the raw data to utilize it for the achievement of the goal. Whereas, data from secondary research may not be useful for the purpose at hand. 
  5. Where primary research is time taking process and needs several days, months to conduct properly, Secondary research is very convenient as it doesn’t require much time to perform and get the information at hand.


While data obtained from primary research is tailored to the purpose of research and is always authentic, data from secondary research is not reliable and has to be interpreted according to the objective of the research. however, there are some demerits of primary research which wins some points for secondary research. however, secondary research only depends on the data of primary research while performing the research. Therefore it can be concluded that the benchmark of secondary research is dependent on the efficiency of primary research done. keeping all the differentiation in mind, one can always opt research method according to the need of research.


  1. https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/23634/hox_05_data+collection,primary+versus+secondary.pdf?sequence=1
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.3102/0013189×005010003

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