There are various advantages and disadvantages of using secondary data. The primary advantage of secondary data is that it is cheaper and faster to access. Secondly, it provides a way to access the work of the best scholars all over the world. Thirdly, secondary data gives a frame of mind to the researcher that in which direction he/she should go for the specific research. On the other hand, the major limitation of secondary data is time and reliability. Data collected in Japan may not be applicable in UK. In addition, with the passage of time the data becomes obsolete and very old secondary data collections can distort the results of the research. Secondary data can also raise issues of authenticity and copyright.
Secondary data can be described as the most widely used method for data collection. This process involves accessing information that is already gathered from either the originator or a distributor of primary research. Secondary research includes collecting information from third-party sources such as company websites, sales and accounting records, magazine articles and marketing research reports. It also includes any previously gathered information used by the marketer from any internal or external source.
* Considerably cheaper and faster than doing original studies
* You can benefit from the research from some of the top scholars in your field, which for the most part ensures quality data.
* If you have limited funds and time, other surveys may have the advantage of samples drawn from larger populations.
* How much you use previously collected data is flexible; you might only extract a few figures from a table, you might use the data in a subsidiary role in your research, or even in a central role.
* A network of data archives in which survey data files are collected and distributed is readily available, making research for secondary analysis easily accessible.
* Since many surveys deal with national populations, if you are interested in studying a well-defined minority subgroup you will have a difficult time finding relevant data.
* Secondary analysis can be used in irresponsible ways. If variables aren't exactly those you want, data can be manipulated and transformed in a way that might lessen the validity of the original research.
* Much research, particularly of large samples, can involve large data files and difficult statistical packages
Disadvantages of secondary data:
Locating appropriate source and finally getting access to the data could be time consuming
The data available might be too vast and a lot of time may be spend going through it
It is originally collected for some purposes which is specific and not known to the present researcher. In this case it may mislead to use the data
The accuracy of the secondary data as well as its reliability would depend on its sources
It is not updated regularly and not of much use in a dynamically changing environment
Lack of consistency of perspective
Biases and inaccuracies can not be checked
Published statistics often raise more questions than they answer (for example, what does church attendance tell us about religious beliefs?)
The concern over whether any data can be totally separated from the context of its collection