Secondary data and its Sources and Characteristics

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What is secondary data? Mention the various sources of secondary data. Discuss the essential characteristics of secondary data.

Secondary data means data that are already available i.e., they refer to the data which have already been collected and analyzed by someone else.

When the researcher utilizes secondary data, then he has to look into various sources from where he can obtain them. In this case he is certainly not confronted with the problems that are usually associated with the collection of original data.


  1. Various publication of the central states are local governments.
  2. Various publications of foreign governments or of international bodies and their subsidiary organisation.
  3. Technical and trade journals.
  4. Books, magazines and newspapers.
  5. Reports and publications of various associations connected with business and industry, banks, stock exchanges, etc.;
  6. Reports prepared by research scholars, universities, economists, etc. in different fields.
  7. Public records and statistics, historical documents, and other sources of published information.

For example, the official website of Reserve bank of India, National Stock Exchange, etc. most of the data is freely available and provided in Excel worksheets. The sources of unpublished data are many; they may be found in diaries, letters, unpublished biographies and autobiographies and also may be available with scholars and research workers, trade association, labour bureaus and other public/private individuals and organizations.

The essential characteristics of secondary data are:

  1. Reliability of data: The reliability can be tested by finding out such things about the said data:
    1. Who collected the data?
    2. What where the sources of data?
    3. Were the collected by using proper methods
    4. At what time were they collected?
    5. Was there any bias of the compiler?
    6. What level of accuracy was desired?
    7. Was it achieved?
  2. Suitability of data: The data that are suitable for one enquiry. Hence, if the available data are found to be unsuitable, they should not be used by the researcher.
  3. Adequacy of data: If the level of accuracy achieved in data is found inadequate for the purpose of the present enquiry, they will be considered as inadequate and should not be used by the researcher.

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