How to Execute your Dissertation Secondary Research: Four Steps

Reading this article means you have successfully completed your dissertation primary research and now plan to start the secondary research. Well, congratulations on completing the most challenging research, but you still have some work to do. This guide takes you through four steps to get your secondary research done.

What is secondary research

Secondary research, unlike primary research, is using already collected data for your work. Such data are collected from past research, online sources, journals, books, conferences, and government sources. In essence, secondary research involves reviewing and analyzing past data to fit into your current work. Despite its limitations, it is one of the best and cheapest ways to acquire data for all research types.

Pros of secondary research

  • It is a cheaper form of data collection compared to primary research
  • It takes less time, energy, and effort to gather data
  • It is easy to access secondary data through both online and offline search
  • Extensive data set to assess within a short time

Four steps to your Secondary research

  1. Your research question

Like the primary research, you need to come up with research questions for secondary analysis. Supervisors typically provide undergraduates writing their thesis with research questions. However, master’s and Ph.D. students doing their dissertation must create their own questions. To develop your research questions, first, specify your research area and topic. You then read widely on the topic to identify pressing issues needing attention or gaps in previous works. You can now develop your questions around the gap and the pressing issues.

  1. Identify a secondary data set

In doing this, you need to analyze previously collected data on your topic. This is done by reviewing previous literature and what you’ve settled on using. Also, your research questions can point you to the type of data needed. How do you identify useful past data? The only answer is through reading previous works on your topic. After getting reusable data, contact the original researcher for permission to use it. You not seeking approval may result in copyright infringement.

  1. Evaluate the data

Is the data you want to use fit for purpose? Does it suit the format you wish to use for your research? Does it answer your research questions? It would help if you considered these before reusing secondary data. For a positive result, first determine the original research aims and objective, the person who collected the data and methodology used, and when it was collected. This helps you decide whether you can use the data straight or needs to be altered. Anything contrary to this may render your research not fit for purpose or limit its effectiveness.

  1.  Prepare your data

After evaluating your data set, you then need to prepare your secondary data set. Each research methodology has its way of data preparation. For quantitative research, you may need to outline all variables for the study. Afterward, check for missing data and create some if possible. You then analyze all the data you have used to ensure they fit well.