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Primary research consists of a collection of original primary data collected by the researcher. It is often undertaken after the researcher has gained some insight into the issue by reviewing secondary research or by analyzing previously collected primary data.[clarification needed] It can be accomplished through various methods, including questionnaires and telephone interviews in market research, or experiments and direct observations in the physical sciences, amongst others.
There are advantages and disadvantages to primary research.
- Researcher can focus on both qualitative and quantitative issues.
- Addresses specific research issues as the researcher controls the search design to fit their needs
- Great control; not only does primary research enable the marketer to focus on specific subjects, it also enables the researcher to have a higher control over how the information is collected. Taking this into account, the researcher can decide on such requirements as size of project, time frame and goal.
- Compared to secondary research, primary data may be very expensive in preparing and carrying out the research. Costs can be incurred in producing the paper for questionnaires or the equipment for an experiment of some sort.
- In order to be done properly, primary data collection requires the development and execution of a research plan. It takes longer to undertake primary research than to acquire secondary data.
- Some research projects, while potentially offering information that could prove quite valuable, may not be within the reach of a researcher.
- By the time the research is complete it may be out of date.
- Low response rate has to be expected.
An example of primary research in opinion research: the government wants to know if people are pleased with how the government is being run, so they hand out questionnaires to the public asking if they are happy and, if not, how to improve.
An example of primary research in the physical sciences: Can the transition temperature of high-temperature superconductors be increased by varying the composition of the superconducting material. The scientist will modify the composition of the high-Tc material in various ways and measure the transition temperature of the new material as a function of its composition.
All research, whether primary or secondary, depends eventually on the collection of primary research data.