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Secondary Data Analysis: Methods & Advantages

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  • 0:03 What Is Secondary Data?
  • 1:25 Secondary Data Analysis
  • 2:44 Secondary Data…
  • 3:28 Secondary Data…
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Pennington

Laura has taught collegiate mathematics and holds a master's degree in pure mathematics.

In this lesson, we'll define secondary data and secondary data analysis. We'll look at the methods of analyzing this type of data, and we'll also look at the advantages and disadvantages of this type of data.

What Is Secondary Data?

Suppose you and a group of your peers are doing a research project for a class you are taking. Your group decides to do the project on the homeless population in your city. To get started, you want to collect data regarding your city.

Your group heads to the library and finds various publications on subjects such as city population, gender, ethnic groups, economic environment, and homeless statistics from past years. You're thrilled that there are numerous articles, books, journals, technical reports, official statistics, and other publications with this type of data because it makes finding information for your project a lot easier. After all, the more data that is already out there, the less you have to collect!

These different sources that you and your classmates have found at the library provide a specific type of data called secondary data. Secondary data is data that you find in a resource, whether it be in the library or on the Internet. It may be anything from government statistics to reference books to research studies. The key aspect is that you did not collect the information yourself.

You and your classmates record the secondary data that you've collected, along with the sources they come from, and head over to the student center to make some sense out of all this data and how it relates to your project. In other words, it's time for some secondary data analysis!

Secondary Data Analysis

Now that we now know what secondary data is, it's time to analyze that data. Secondary data analysis is simply the analysis of secondary data. Thankfully, you've already done part of the analysis, and that is collecting the data. Other parts of analyzing secondary data include the following:

  • Determining which of the data you collected is associated with your project (what data can be used)
  • Interpreting the secondary data to better understand your city's demographics and the homeless situation in your city
  • Cross-analyzing the secondary data to find out what is happening in your city regarding homelessness and why it is happening
  • Making recommendations, judgments, and giving ideas on how to improve homelessness in your city based on the secondary data

The analysis of secondary data involves closely and carefully weeding through the data to find data you can use for your specific purposes, figuring out how that data applies to your project, and drawing conclusions based on your findings.

It looks like you and your group are all set with secondary data, so you head out to collect some data of your own. Data that you collect is called primary data. Between the secondary and primary data analysis, you're sure to have a great project! Let's hope the teacher agrees!

Secondary Data Analysis Advantages

As with any research method, there are advantages and disadvantages to secondary data analysis.

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