Using Archival Research & Secondary Records to Collect Social Research Data Video

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  • 0:06 Archival
  • 0:50 Archival Example
  • 1:36 Meta-Analysis
  • 2:31 Meta-Analysis Example
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

This lesson explores the idea of what happens when researchers already have information and data that they can study. You'll get the chance to look at descriptions of archival and meta-analysis research.


Sometimes, if you're lucky, you will have something you can study without having to go out and find it. For instance, if you work for a program or company that holds onto information about clients, then you already have the client data that you can study. Or, if you don't work for a company but have access to research papers, then you also have data at your fingertips.

Archival research is analyzing already collected data. It is looking at what is already in hand and applying statistical measures to it to describe the information in a simpler way. For example, a stack of random information about clients can be turned into a representative statistic, such as the average age, the average income, gender and ethnicity.

If you work at a psychological service center, you and your employees will see dozens, if not hundreds, of clients a day. That's a lot of people in and out of your doors.

Let's say a financier comes along and wants to help by providing your center with a donation. This is really good news since the other sources of money have been recently drying up. However, before your financier will give you the donation, they want to make sure that you're providing adequate services. This means you and your staff will need to perform an evaluation of your clients.

Now, to get the grant, you and your employees must use your archived information to produce information about what you have done. This does not necessarily need to be published, but the work is needed all the same.


Every researcher will eventually have an idea that's already been thought of before. It happens. Sometimes, even really interesting and unique things have been tested and published long before you were even ever born!

So, should you just give up and move on to the next experiment? You can do that, or you can find all the information on the topic and perform a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis is a study examining prior research related to a single hypothesis. This is a form of archival research since the data has already been collected, and you're re-examining it.

Instead of performing just one experiment and being lost amongst the others, you could look at all of the experiments and make a big statement by combining them. This typically takes the form of an advanced statistical procedure to sum up the effects. Let's look at an example to show you what I mean.

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