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Explain the difference between primary and secondary sources of data, with examples.

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Name: Rebecca Holmes Unit 3/11 Task a: Research Methodologies Explain the difference between primary and secondary sources of data, with examples: Primary data is data, which is collected by the researcher themselves. This kind of data is new, original research information. Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened and is hands on. A primary source reflects the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources are first-hand information from a person who witnessed or participated in an event. Examples of primary data are: * Interviews * Questionnaires *Observations Secondary research is using information that has already been produced by other people. A secondary source is used by a person usually not present at the event and relying on primary source documents for information. Secondary sources usually analyse and interpret. Finding out about research that already exits will help form new research. Examples of secondary data: Internet Books/ Magazines Newspapers Office statistics The government statistics service The office of national statistics Centre for applied social surveys The distinctions between primary and secondary sources can be ambiguous. An individual document may be a primary source in one context and a secondary source in another. Time is a defining element. For example, a recent newspaper article is not usually a primary source; but a newspaper article from the 1860's may be a primary source for civil war research. Explain the concept of validity Validity is how truthful something is and whether a piece of research has the ability to test or research what it set out to measure. ...read more.


This makes comparison of answers difficult if groups have common interpretation. Lying is also a danger. The only way to check is to put in is difficult to check weather they are or not. If the response rate is low or the sampling is less random, the overall findings will be less reliable. Method : In-depth interviews Describe this method: Interviews are very similar to questionnaires as they are organised around a series of questions that the interviewee can respond. Although interviews are longer winded than questionnaires. They are also a lot more personal than questionnaires and are able to collect more detailed information. Interviews are usually take place face-to-face and one-to-one which enables the interviewer to gain information on a more sensitive subject. Interviews need to be carried out really carefully by the interviewer and require good communication skills. They are much harder work than questionnaires, as they can be very time consuming. Interviews can be open-ended, structured or semi-structured. Structured: Questions asked require as certain answer. Open-ended: Don't have a format, so the interviewee can express their feelings. Semi-structured: Are half way in-between both structured and open ended. During an interview it is best to use a bit of both to get a variety. Advantages of in-depth interviews Disadvantages of in-depth interviews Good interaction can often develop between the interviewer and interviewee; this means that honest and trustworthy answers are produced. This is really important when the subject is considered sensitive or personal. ...read more.


This research method is often used to find out hidden information on a hostile group like the police to find out hidden data. There is a risk of doing this because the group would not appreciate someone who they think was there friend and who they trusted going and getting into trouble for a piece of research. Advantages of Participant observation Disadvantages of Participant observation Observations in the group's natural settings can produce very high valid data, because they are being themselves. The data collected can be very useful and may give access to data that could have been hidden away otherwise. The data can be observed over a long period of time so can be more accurate and reliable. Participant observation may be the only way of accessing information on more hostile groups that would not normally let you observe them. During the research the researchers can decide what is important and what is not as it unfolds, and so do not have to decide what they are looking for at the beginning of the study Researchers may not help but start to get involved in the group, and could influence them in what they do. Participant observers may never really understand the group or their setting so may not be able to appreciate the meanings they have. Studying groups on a small scale doesn't mean it can be a representation of any other social groups because everyone is different. Observations can sometimes have ethical problems if say there was no consent obtained when the observation was being carried out. The reliability of observational data collection methods is low because observations are often too personal and non-repeatable. ...read more.

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