Difference between Primary and Secondary Data


Primary data and secondary data are two different types of data used for statistical analysis. Primary data is original or first-hand data collected by the researcher for the first time by himself for a specific purpose. Whereas, secondary data is a processed or old data which is already collected by someone else in past and taken by a researcher from different secondary sources.

Primary data is collected from the source of origin or where it generates and secondary data is collected from secondary sources like reservation storage where data is collected and saved by one person and used by some other. The cost involved in the collection of primary data is high as it is collected for a specific purpose. Secondary data, however, can be procured at less cost as it is easily available. Primary data is factual and real-time data and does not undergo any statistical treatment like sorting and tabulation. On the other hand, data which is past data and is already sorted, tabulated is known as Secondary data.

Collection of primary data requires large efforts, experience, investment, manpower and is under the direct supervision of the researcher. Secondary data, however, do not require such large efforts and investment as it is already available. Differences between primary data and secondary data can be well understood from difference chart given below.

Difference between Primary and Secondary Data

Basis of DistinctionPrimary DataSecondary Data
DefinitionPrimary Data is data collected by researcher himself for first time from original sources or sources of origin.Secondary Data is data which is not collected by research himself but by someone else and are collected from secondary sources.
Nature of DataReal time, original and non-fabricated data.Past, processed and fabricated data.
Cost involvedHigh costCheap
ReliabilityHigh degree of accuracy and reliability.Less Reliability
Time requiredTime consumingCan be acquired quickly
Process involvedDifficult and tedious processEasy process
SpecificIt is specific to researcher’s requirements for solving problem in hand.It is not specific to requirements of researcher.
SourcesExperiments, personal interviews, observations, surveys, etc.Books, journal, websites, articles, Government publications etc.