A four-step guide to secondary research for dissertations


The first thing you must know about secondary research is that it is the easiest type. It is much simpler hence we have provided you a guide that is only 4 steps long. Secondary research does not involve the painstaking efforts of primary research. There is no finding participants, selecting and readying measures and spending months collecting data. But there are some basic factors that you need to be aware of when doing secondary research. And here, we are going to cover all of them.
Step 1: Develop the research question
This step is similar to any other type of research method. At an undergraduate level, a research question is most often provided to you by the supervisor. But this differs when doing a thesis at graduate level. Here you need to come up with a research question on your own.
The first thing to do is specify the research area in which your dissertation will fall. Any relevant and interesting topic can be targeted for academic exploration. Once your topic has been identified, it is time to read. Go through existing literature about your chosen topic. This will help you discover any gaps that can be filled by your research. Then create a research question based on this study.
Step 2: Identifying a secondary data set
After your literature review and forming a research question, you can turn to secondary data collection. There is always some previous data that will fit in perfectly with your own perspective. And will help you answer your stated research question more easily and thoroughly.
But how do you come across that useful data for your dissertation? This is done be reviewing the literature based on the topic of your research. This process will help you find other agencies, organizations and research centers that have explored the same area.
Once you find the data you need, then you must contact the authors and ask for permission to use it. This process can change depending on external and internal research. The fore mentioned possibility works for external data collection. For internal research, there is no need to search other literature for secondary data set. You can reuse the same previous data that was collected within the organization.
In both situations, you have to ultimately make sure that the data fits with your research question. Once that is established, you must state the reasons you chose to rely on secondary data.
Step 3: Evaluation of secondary data set
There are some disadvantages involved in secondary data collection process. They are as follows:
 1. Secondary data might not be suitable for the purpose of your research.
 2. It may have a different format from what you require.
 3. Validity and reliability might be lacking.
 4. Secondary data might not be able to respond to your research question.
 5. The actual authors might have failed to provide important information in their research.
Since these factors can hinder the efficiency of your research, you must evaluate secondary data. Here are some ways to do that.
• The aim of the original study
You first need to discover what the aim of the secondary data study is? The writer’s goal impact the overall research. It includes sampling, measurement tools and the context of research. At this point you also need to highlight the differences between your research and the study. It is most likely that they have another research question specified. Hence, it is important to know where your ideas diversify from theirs.
• Think of who is behind collecting that data
The next stage of evaluation is determining who the data has been collected by. Which institutions were the writers affiliated with? Were they professional enough for their research to be authentic? You can find this information by doing some online research.
• The measures employed
Legitimate researchers will have complete documents of measures, procedures, samples and protocols. You can obtain this information from their final report or contact them to request for it. This information is essential to make sure it is valid and reliable.
• The time that data was collected
In evaluation you also require knowing when the data collection took place. In case it happened a long time back, it is most probably outdated. Hence making it obsolete and unusable. And ideal time period is it should be collected within the past five years.
• The methodology used for the data collection
Knowing the dissertation methodology might be the most important aspect of evaluation. This helps you evaluate the way the sample was acquired. If the size of the sample was sufficient. Whether there were any measures or responses that should exist. Any of the drawback that are present in the original methodology help identify any limitation for your research.
Step 4: Prepare and analyze
The final step is to move on to preparing the secondary data set after the evaluation. In case of quantitative research outline every variable that will be used in your dissertation. Once that is identified, transfer this into a new Excel or SPSS file. Remember to just copy the whole thing. It is crucial to not make any alteration in it. The final step is analyzing the data. Decide on the analysis technique that is most useful for your data set. A statistical analysis is what you need at this final stage.
This was our complete guide to secondary research for a successful dissertation. For further dissertation research help contact us for a quality writing service.

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