Wikipedia defines secondary research as “the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research rather than primary research, in which data are collected from, for example, research subjects or experiments”. Secondary research is also known as “Desk Research” for precisely the reason that it involves extraction of meaningful data from existing researches. All the work has been already done! Well not exactly!
Secondary research is not free of pitfalls. Most common mistakes made by researchers are:
- Assuming available research as comprehensive research. Every research is done for a specific purpose. It might generate insights in related area but mostly do not deep dives in them.
- Not checking Quality of research. The research might be old or of low quality. Always check the source and date of the research.
- Considering Internal Data as master data. Though it is a great source of research insights, it inadvertently only reflects the existing customers or services; a subset of what industry might consists of.
It is most important to identify the steps that are required for complete process as in any research. Not only it defines the key activities, it also helps in defining timeline for each activity. It helps stick to the schedule and the purpose enhancing both efficiency and effectiveness.
Steps of the secondary research:
- Define problem. Identify the set of questions (or one big question) you want to get answered.
- Identify data. List down all the data points you need to answer these questions. It could be one set of data points like demographic or it could be mix or more than one set.
- Source identification. Identify the sources of data points identified in step 2. Typically, data sources are of two types:
- Internal: every organization generates their own data. These sources typically are Financial statements, Inventory records, Sales data, past researches, departmental data, company data. Verify if the data is audited.
- External: Various research organizations, government organizations, blogs, news, trade associations and publications share required data. Be sure to check credibility of external sources.
- Data collation and normalization. Gather the required data in the required format at one place for further processing. Normalize data as terminologies and categorizations might differ for different sources.
- Analysis. Analyse the data to generate required insights. Repeat the steps if required.
Benefits of Outsourcing Secondary Research
The most precious commodity in the world is time. A researcher or an organization may at any time be constrained by time and have to multi-task. It dilutes the focus towards each task. Outsourcing the secondary research to a trusted partner not only gives you a breather but also ensures a quality result.
You can leverage the following advantages of secondary research by outsourcing to a right partner:
- Timely completion of research
- Low costs
- Clarity in defining research objectives
- Resources optimization by helping you assessing each research objective
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