Dissertation Using Only Secondary Research Sources


The success of your dissertation depends on choosing the right research strategy. Learn whether you should primary or secondary research for your dissertation.

Writing a dissertation is not as challenging as choosing the right research strategy. You should be aware of the pros and cons of the research strategy that you’re choosing and should be sure that the chosen method is the best for your research. Even though you would be quite aware of the different research strategies; however, you might get confused as to which strategy should be used with respect to the research topic. During such times you might ask yourself ‘should I use Primary or Secondary Research in my Dissertation’, as these are the two most common research methods.

Thus, to make sure that you select the most suitable research strategy for your research, learn about the two most common research strategies to make the right choice:

Primary Research

Primary research tends to answer research questions that are specific and exploratory. Researchers are involved in the data collection process which helps in gathering specific data. For this purpose, interviews are conducted, primary research surveysare carried out and a lot of other primary research tools are utilized. With the help of sampling method, participants for the research are chosen which helps in understanding as to how the research will be conducted and which participants will be best for the study (Twin Cities Campus Library, 2017).

Primary research is conducted when researchers are looking to answer specific research questions. Or when a case is being studied, an organization, its employees or any of its process is being looked into. Such researches are perfect for conducting primary researches as first hand data needs to be collected and the research cannot rely on past and already published researches. Furthermore, when conducting primary research, not only the researcher is able to gather responses, but the nonverbal communication and gestures play a huge role. They help the researcher identify the various hidden elements which cannot be obtained when conducting secondary research.


On the other hand, when looking into how to do primary research for dissertation, the researcher should be aware of the high costs involved in the process of gathering primary data. Thus, if the researcher is on a low or a limited budget, conducting primary research is not recommended. Also, this type of research requires a lot of time to complete (Otis College of Art and Design, 2017). This means that the researcher will have to set a timeline in order to make sure that the research is conducted within that timeframe.

Considering the pros and cons of this method of research, you should understand how this research is conducted, what difficulties you might have to face and what aspects you should look into so that you can answer should I use Primary or Secondary Research in my Dissertation effectively. One important aspect that researchers should look into is research ethics and keeping participants’ information confidential. There might be participants who wouldn’t be willing to disclose their information, thus this aspect is crucial and should be looked into carefully.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is another example of research methodology in a dissertation. This type of research, reviews and analyzes past researches and studies. The researcher when conducting this type of research makes sure that relevant past researches are identified and included for analysis purposes. In addition to this, models and theories of authors are also included to understand the concept in a better manner. The theories and models are chosen based on the research question that has been formulated. Also, the aims and objectives of the research are considered while researching past studies. Furthermore, already published data from authentic and credible sources is also utilized when a secondary research is being conducted (Guides.library.ucsc.edu, 2017). This gives credibility to the research.

This type of data collection method does not require any statistical test or the use of any tool. Similarly, the data analysis techniques also differ. The data is not analyzed for the purpose of a specific research, instead already published data is used as it is for analysis purposes. However, what the researcher should take into consideration is the credibility and authenticity of the data that is being used and the ethics surrounding secondary information. The data collection process is one of a kind where, if the data is not authentic and credible, will cause problems for the researcher. Thus, it is extremely important for the researcher to understand all the related issues.


Talking about the advantages, secondary research does not require a lot of time like primary research. You can conduct secondary research in a few weeks if you have access to the right information. On the other hand, the costs involved in this data collection process are feasible i.e. the financial costs are not as high as of the primary research (Research.phoenix.edu, 2017). Thus, this type of research can be conducted without having huge budgets set out for research purposes.

The Best Option

When choosing between primary and secondary research, you should always make sure that you take into account all the related aspects so that you make an informed decision. The best way to select the right research strategy is to look into your research topic, question, aims and objectives. This will help you understand as to how you should go about your research and what aspects are important. The Research methodology examples presented above clearly indicate that primary research should be chosen when a specific topic, case, organization etc. is to be researched about, and secondary research should be considered when the research is general and can be answered by analyzing past researches and published data.

Of the two main research methodology examples provided above, you need to be 100% sure as to the one which you are choosing is the right one. If you aren’t sure, your complete dissertation will be inaccurate and unreliable. Also, your research will not answer your research questions, neither your aims nor objectives will be achieved. In order to avoid such situation, make sure that you answer to should I use Primary or Secondary Research in my Dissertation is clear and accurate.

If you aren’t really sure as to which research strategy you should apply, get in touch with us right away. Writers at Research Prospect are extremely qualified and will help you apply the right and most suitable research strategy as per your research topic.



  • Twin Cities Campus Library. (2017). Primary vs. Secondary Sources. [online] Available at: http://www2.smumn.edu/deptpages/tclibrary/tutorials/finding/primary.pdf [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].
  • Otis College of Art and Design. (2017). Using Primary and Secondary Sources. [online] Available at: https://www.otis.edu/library/using-primary-secondary-sources [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].
  • library.ucsc.edu. (2017). Library Guides: Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources: Home. [online] Available at: https://guides.library.ucsc.edu/primarysecondary [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].
  • phoenix.edu. (2017). Understanding Secondary Data in Research | University of Phoenix Research Hub. [online] Available at: https://research.phoenix.edu/center-global-business-research/blog/understanding-secondary-data-research [Accessed 9 Oct. 2017].

Primary or Secondary Research

rodrigo | March 14, 2013

WritePass - Essay Writing - Dissertation Topics [TOC]

Should I use Primary or Secondary Research in my Dissertation?


So, you are starting to think about your dissertation, and you’ve grasped the basics including the difference between primary and secondary research. However, understanding what the differences are won’t necessarily help you to decide whether you should go for a secondary-data based, literature-review style dissertation, or get to grips with primary research. This guide is designed to help you decide what’s best for you.

Overview of the Differences

Just to remind you, there are clear differences between primary and secondary research. Primary research means research which is carried out for the purposes of your study. Secondary research is information that already exists. Many people chose to do an extended literature review, and this is the main type of secondary study.  Secondary data can include journal articles, textbooks, online sources, company and industry data and other types of information. However, you might also decide to carry out new analysis on existing data, for example SPSS analysis on a large dataset collected by other researchers. This is another form of secondary research.

Primary or Secondary Research: How to Decide

  • Your tutor, professors or department might have a preference for the type of dissertation you do. In some subjects you might be strongly advised to do a primary study; in others it might not be practical (English language or Philosophy, for example).
  • To some extent, whether you chose primary or secondary research will also depend on your research question. If the area is under-investigated, adding to the body of existing information by a small-scale study might make sense.
  • Also listen to what your tutor suggests. He or she might feel that a  primary study would be worthwhile.
  • You might feel negatively about primary research, imagining that it will involve more work, or be more difficult, but you can access a great deal of help along the way, either from your tutor or online, and the experience will be valuable for you in your future career.
  • If you are particularly interested in exploring theory you might want to consider secondary research . You might feel strongly that one or other model is better than another, feel that a new model needs to be developed, or want to review a large amount of existing research in the field. You might want to look at the usefulness of existing theories for understanding particular circumstances or behaviour patterns, for instance, or review the existing studies in a particular field.
  • It is easy to assume that secondary research studies are easier, but this is not the case. You will need to evaluate the importance of the material you look at, compare and contrast the theories put forward, arrange the material in a logical way, and critique and analyse it in much more detail.
  • If you decide to do a primary research study, you will also need to decide whether to collect qualitative or quantitative data. You might also decide to use a mixture of both types of data. Qualitative studies are useful for finding out why people behave as they do, what they think about issues, and how they feel in depth and emotionally. Quantitative studies are appropriate to questions of number, amount, and for dealing with measurable phenomena.


PlymouthUniversity (2013) ‘Writing a Dissertation’ [online] (cited 4th March 2013) available from


University of Birmingham (2013) ‘Research Methodologies’ [online] (cited 4th March 2013) available from


University of Reading ‘Researching your Dissertation’, [online] (cited 4th March 2013) available from http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/studyadvice/Studyresources/Essays/sta-researchingdissertation.aspx


Tags: dissertation, Primary Research, Secondary Research

Category: Dissertation Writing Guide


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