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Secondary research involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research. Secondary research is contrasted with primary research in that primary research involves the generation of data, whereas secondary research uses primary research sources as a source of data for analysis.[1] A notable marker of primary research is the inclusion of a "methods" section, where the authors describe how the data was generated.

Common examples of secondary research include textbooks, encyclopedias, news articles, review articles, and meta analyses.[2][3]

When conducting secondary research, authors may draw data from published academic papers, government documents, statistical databases, and historical records.[1][4]


The term is widely used in primary research, legal research and market research. The principal methodology in health secondary research is the systematic review, commonly using meta-analytic statistical techniques, but other methods of synthesis, like realist reviews and meta-narrative[5] reviews, have been developed in recent years. Such secondary research uses the primary research of others typically in the form of research publications and reports.

In a market research context, secondary research is taken to include the reuse, by a second party, of any data collected by a first party, such as telephone interviews or surveys.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Primary and Secondary Sources".
  2. ^ Ormsby, Tim. "Search Smart: Types of Research: Secondary Research".
  3. ^ Andrews, Camille. "LibGuides: Scholarly Literature Types: Primary vs. Secondary Articles".
  4. ^ Bosch, Eileen. "LibGuides: Library Basics: Primary and Secondary Sources".
  5. ^ Diffusion of Innovations in Health Service Organisations: a systematic literature review Archived 2007-02-02 at the Wayback Machine