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Primary Research


Primary research is research collected directly from the research subject/area, by the researcher. It usually involves the researcher going into the market place (field) to find the information they are looking for. If the researcher does not go into the field they may send or place something into the field to record information for them.

Secondary research involves looking at published documents and can be carried out from the researcher's desk/computer. Secondary research will provide the results of research carried out by other people. If you would like further information about secondary research look at our Secondary Research article.

Primary Data Collection Methods

Primary data collection methods include observations, interviews and trials. The appropriate primary research method will depend on the aim of the primary research and the time, money and resources available to the researcher. Every primary research method has its limitations and a margin of error; primary research analysis will need to take these into account.

Observations And Ethnographic Research

Trained observers and cameras will capture how people behave in specific situations. For example at work, leisure or whilst shopping. Click on this link for further information about research through observations.

Primary Research Interviews

Face to face interviews will take place between an interviewer and the respondent in their home, a location chosen by the interviewer or a public place such as a shopping centre. The interviewer will ask the respondent/interviewee questions and record their responses. Interviews can also be carried out on the telephone; for telephone interviews the researcher will ring the person they would like to interview or make a number of random telephone calls so that they have a varied selection of respondents.

Primary Research Experiments And Trials

This involves using a new approach, new strategy or new product at a small selection of sites for a set period of time. The results are closely monitored and used to design future strategy and products.

Primary Research Postal Surveys

Forms containing questions designed to find out people's opinion about a particular subject are posted to a group of people. Completed forms are analysed to draw out the information required.

Online Questionnaires and Digital Primary Research

Many firms conduct primary research though online questionnaires. Questionnaires will pop up when people visit the firm's website asking them for feedback about the website and the firm. Firms also email customers after they have purchased their product and services asking them to provide feedback about the product purchased and the service provided by the firm

Primary Research Focus Groups

A group of people are invited to join a discussion about a particular subject. The chair person (moderator) will introduce the discussion topics and ensure everybody has a chance to express their opinions. The group will be usually be allocated a set time to discuss each topic. The aim of the focus group is to produce qualitative data (opinions and attitudes) on the topic being discussed.

Primary Research Advantages and Disadvantages

The diagram below explains the advantages and disadvantages of each type of primary research that we have discussed in this article.

Primary Research Collection Methods Table

Back to Research Overview | Secondary Research Article


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