Primary research

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Primary research involves the collection of original primary data by researchers. It is often undertaken after researchers have gained some insight into an issue by reviewing secondary research or by analyzing previously collecte 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. The distinction between primary research and secondary research is crucial among market-research professionals.[citation needed]


The term primary research is widely used in academic research, market research and competitive intelligence.

There are advantages and disadvantages to primary research:


  • The researcher can focus on both qualitative and quantitative issues.
  • Specific research issues are addressed as the researcher customizes the search design.
  • Primary research enables the marketer to focus on specific subjects and the researcher to have a higher control over how the information is collected. Taking that into account, the researcher can decide on such requirements as size of project, time frame and goal.
  • Primary research is more acute and up to date


  • 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.
  • 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  • By the time that the research is complete, it may be out of date.
  • A low response rate has to be expected.

An example of primary research in opinion research is if the government wants to know if people are pleased with how the government is being run, so it hands out questionnaires to the public asking if it is happy and, if not, how the government is to improve.

An example of primary research in the physical sciences is ic the transition temperature of high-temperature superconductors can 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 then measure the transition temperature of the new material, as a function of its composition.

All research, primary or secondary, depends eventually on the collection of primary research data.

See also[edit]