Primary Data vs Secondary Data 1
Primary Data vs. Secondary Data 1

There are many methods of classifying data. A frequent classification is based upon who gathered the data. Primary data is described as Data collected by the investigator himself/herself for a particular purpose. While Secondary Data is described as Data collected by someone else for some other purpose (but being used by the investigator for a different purpose).

Data collection plays a significant role in the statistical analysis. In research, there are various methods used to collect information, all of which fall into two classes, i.e. primary data, and secondary information. As the name implies, main data is one that is collected for the first time from the researcher while secondary data is that the information accumulated or generated by others.
There are numerous differences between secondary and primary data, which are discussed in this report. But the most important distinction is that primary data is factual and first whereas secondary data is only the interpretation and analysis of the primary data. While primary data is collected with a goal for getting a solution to the issue at hand, secondary information is collected for different purposes.

Comparison Chart

Defination Primary data refers to first hand data gathered by the researcher. Secondary data means data collected by someone else earlier.
Collection time Long Short
Process Very involved Quick and easy
Data Real time data Past data
Cost effectiveness Expensive Economical
Available in Crude form Refined form
Specific Always specific to the researcher’s needs. May or may not be specific to the researcher’s need.
Source Surveys, observations, experiments, questionnaire, personal interview, etc. Government publications, websites, books, journal articles, internal records etc.
Accuracy and Reliability More Relatively less

What is Primary Data?

Primary data is information originated for the first time from the researcher through direct efforts and expertise, specifically with the goal of addressing his research issue. Also called the first hand or raw data. Primary data collection is rather costly since the study is conducted by the organization or service itself, which requires resources such as labor and investment.

Primary Data vs Secondary Data 1
Primary Data vs. Secondary Data 1

The information collection is under direct control and supervision of the investigator.
The information could be collected through different methods like surveys, observations, physical testing, mailed questionnaires, questionnaire filled and delivered by enumerators, private interviews, telephonic interviews, focus groups, case studies, etc..


Data gathered by a student for his/her thesis or research project.

Benefits of using Primary Data:

  • The investigator gathers data specific to the issue under study.
  • If required, it could be possible to get additional data during the analysis period.
  • There’s absolutely not any doubt about the quality of the data collected (for the investigator).

Disadvantages of using Primary Data

  • The investigator must contend with all of the hassles of data collection-
  • Finding the data collected (personally or through others)
  • deciding why, what, how, when to collect
  • Ethical concerns (consent, permissions, etc..)
  • Getting financing and dealing with funding agencies
  • Ensuring the data collected is of a high standard-
  • All desired data is obtained correctly, and in the format it’s required in
  • There’s absolutely not any imitation / cooked up data
  • Unnecessary/ useless data hasn’t been included
  • Cost of obtaining the data is often the major expense in studies

What is Secondary Data?

Secondary data suggests second-hand information that’s accumulated and recorded by any individual apart from the user for a purpose, not about the present research issue. It’s the easily available form of information collected from various sources such as censuses, government publications, internal records of their organization, reports, books, journal articles, websites and so forth.
Secondary data provide several advantages as it’s readily available, saves cost and time of the researcher. However there are some disadvantages associated with this, as the information is accumulated for the purposes aside from the problem in your mind, so the usefulness of this data may be restricted in a lot of ways such as relevance and accuracy.
Additionally, the objective and the method adopted for obtaining data might not be appropriate to the present situation. Therefore, before using secondary data, these factors should be considered.


Census data used to analyze the effects of instruction on career choice and earning.

Benefits of using Secondary Data

  • The data’s already there- no hassles of data collection.
  • The investigator is not personally accountable for the quality of data.
  • It is less expensive.

Disadvantages of using Secondary Data

  • The investigator can’t decide what is collected (if certain data about something is necessary).
  • Obtaining additional data (or even clarification) about something is not possible (most frequently)
  • One can only expect that the data is of good quality.

Key Differences between Primary Data and Secondary Data

  1. The fundamental differences between secondary and primary data are discussed in the following points:
  2. The term main data refers to the information originated from the researcher for the very first time. Secondary data is the current data, gathered by the investigator organizations and agencies earlier.
  3. Main data is real-time data whereas secondary information is one that is related to the past.
  4. Primary data is collected for fixing the issue at hand while secondary information is collected for purposes aside from the problem at hand.
  5. Primary data collection is a very involved procedure. On the other hand, secondary data collection procedure is rapid and effortless.
  6. Main data collection resources include surveys, observations, experiments, questionnaire, personal interview, etc.. To the contrary, secondary data collection resources are government publications, websites, books, journal articles, internal documents etc.
  7. Primary data collection takes a massive quantity of resources like time, cost and labor. Conversely, secondary information is comparatively cheap and quickly available.
  8. Primary data is always unique to the researcher’s needs, and he controls the quality of the study. In contrast, secondary information is specific to the researcher’s need, nor he has control over the information quality.
  9. Main data is available from the raw type whereas secondary information is the refined type of primary data. In addition, it can be stated that secondary information is accessed when statistical methods are applied to the primary data.
  10. Data collected through primary sources are more reliable and precise in comparison with the secondary sources.


As may be seen from the preceding discussion that primary data is original and unique information, which can be directly collected by the researcher from a source based on his requirements. Rather than secondary data that’s easily accessible but aren’t pure as they’ve undergone through many statistical treatments.