When students think about primary research they think it has something to do with utilizing primary sources. This isn’t quite right. The correct primary research definition states that it is any kind of information you collect on your own: For example, primary research would include anything from interviews to observations to surveys. Students usually design a method for collection (e.g., develop questions) and identify a target group related to the subject or topic.
Primary Research Versus Secondary Research
As we mentioned above, primary research is a fundamental study conducted by you. Secondary research is where you take previous studies and apply them to your specific topic (e.g., the same conditions or data you used).
Primary research and writing will focus on questions related to the specific study topic you are dealing with. You may be answering questions that have not been answered before or are looking to find different results as they pertain to your research conditions.
With secondary research, you are utilizing trusted sources that already exist in books, journals, etc. Secondary research is similar to the kind of research that students conduct throughout high school and in some introductory college courses.
Most of the resources they utilize will already exist and can be applied to their hypotheses. The difference in primary research vs secondary research comes down to what are looking to achieve in your study.
How to Write a Primary Research Project
- Decide on the data you need to collect.
There are three types of data you can collect: primary, secondary, and big data. In this guide, we are focusing on primary data which is information you catch in real-time (i.e., gathered at the time of the study.
- Decide on the appropriate methodology.
There are three primary research methods: qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method (more on this below). The first is exploratory, the second is confirmatory, and the third is a mix of the first two. You should start with a low scale study to determine how to proceed with a larger scale study using one of the three methods.
- Take strengths and limitations into consideration.
When looking at the data collected from the low scale study you should apply each of the three methods and take each one’s strengths and limitations into consideration. Ask yourself the same questions you pose in the research proposal and identify the method that achieves the most.
- Conduct your study and organize the data.
Now it’s time to conduct your study. You can choose a variety of ways to gather information, including focus groups, interviews, observations, and surveys. Organize the data into categories so that you can easily find pull relevant information as needed.
- Present the information in a chart or graph.
If you selected a quantitative approach you should put your information into charts and graphs to better communicate your findings. Not all information will be useful to determine a grading system to include the most telling content and then summarize what has been omitted.
- Present the discussion, results, and conclusion.
Finally, write content to present your discussion, results, and conclusion. Each is a separate section in your research paper or report, so be sure you stick to the rules for each. It’s okay if your findings are different from your hypothesis. Just state the information factually.
Frequently Asked Questions about Primary Research
Is a Meta-Analysis Primary Research?
One of the most common questions we get on this topic is whether or not meta-analysis counts as a primary research method. It’s not. Meta-analysis looks at a large collection of results from previous studies. A meta-analysis is an approach that is done during secondary research and concludes randomized prior results. Material from a wide variety of prior primary research studies, for instance, can be looked at to provide conclusions for a secondary research study.
What Are Primary Research Methods?
The primary research methodologies are interviews, surveys, focus groups, and observations. Each has its pros and cons so it’s to your benefit to first understand the kind of questions you need answers to and the best way to deliver them to the target audience. If you are working with your advisor on a project then it would be a good idea to meet frequently to discuss your proposed approach. You will also benefit from looking at prior primary research studies done in your field to get a better grasp of the kind of information you will get by choosing one or another.
What Type of Primary Research Should I Pick?
This is a follow-up to the prior question, but it’s worth taking the discussion more in-depth. With each of the types of primary research you will reach out to people to gather responses and each approach will typically generate different details. In an interview, whether face-to-face or by phone, you will establish a personal connection with the subject utilizing open-ended questions. In a survey, you will provide questions with a set of answers possibly leaving room for respondents to elaborate.
Focus groups bring small groups of people together (usually 6 – 10) and are asked to discuss their responses to questions with one another. Focus groups usually have a moderator to help stimulate further discussion without interjecting his or her own opinions. Finally, observations have a direct interaction between you or the person(s) being observed. Your job in observation is simply to take down details.
Which of the Following is a Type of Primary Research?
There are three types of primary research: Quantitative, qualitative, and a combination of the two. Students that ask “what is primary research?” are usually conducting this type of study for the first time and are usually asked to start with quantitative approaches (using numbers and hard data). Students with more experience will move on to qualitative (which does not use numbers) and will then move on to a combination of the two. To answer the question “what is an example of primary research?” checks out some electronic or print journals in your field to further understand the differences.
What Is a Primary Research Article?
A primary research article always presents the results of a researcher’s original findings based on a subject he or she was driven to study purely on curiosity. For instance, “how do people from different cultures react to spicy food?” would be primary research and not a secondary one which would have been built upon the researcher’s original work. Primary research articles are simply published works that appear in academic journals and can be accessed by future students, professors, or researchers.
Where Can I Find Examples of Primary Research?
You can find primary research examples all over the internet. Just do a simple keyword search including the discipline or subject you are working in and you should gain access to dozens of well-written examples for you to learn from. Just be sure the ones you use come from reputable sources or websites. There are a lot of misleading documents on the internet that could lead you astray.
You might want to contact our support staff when working on your first primary research paper. They can put you in contact with one of our academic writing experts. You can ask them for more resources and help you define primary research strategies for your assignment.