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Research Methodology - Data Collection & Sources Of Data

Secondary Data - Data Collection & Sources Of Data

   Posted On :  20.05.2018 11:18 pm

As stated earlier, secondary data are those data which have already been collected and analyzed by some earlier agency for its own use, and later the same data are used by a different agency.

Secondary Data:
 
 
As stated earlier, secondary data are those data which have already been collected and analyzed by some earlier agency for its own use, and later the same data are used by a different agency. According to W.A.Neiswanger, “A primary source is a publication in which the data are published by the same authority which gathered and analyzed them. A secondary source is a publication, reporting the data which was gathered by other authorities and for which others are responsible.”

 

Sources Of Secondary Data:

 
The various sources of secondary data can be divided into two broad categories:
            
1. Published sources, and

2. Unpublished sources.
 
 

Published Sources:

 
The governmental, international and local agencies publish statistical data, and chief among them are explained below:
 
(a)  International Bublications:
 
There are some international institutions and bodies like I.M.F, I.B.R.D, I.C.A.F.E and U.N.O who publish regular and occasional reports on economic and statistical matters.
 
(b)  Official Publications of Central and State Governments:
 
Several departments of the Central and State Governments regularly publish reports on a number of subjects. They gather additional information. Some of the important publications are: The Reserve Bank of India Bulletin, Census of India, Statistical Abstracts of States, Agricultural Statistics of India, Indian Trade Journal, etc.
 
(c)  Semi-Official Publications:
 
Semi-Government institutions like Municipal Corporations, District Boards, Panchayats, etc. Publish reports relating to different matters of public concern.
 
(d)  Publications of Research Institutions:
 
 
Indian Statistical Institute (I.S.I), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (I.C.A.R), Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (I.A.S.R.I), etc. Publish the findings of their research programmes.
 
(e)  Publications of various Commercial and Financial Institutions

(f)  Reports of various Committees and Commissions appointed by the Government as the Raj Committee’s Report on Agricultural Taxation, Wanchoo Committee’s Report on Taxation and Black Money, etc. Are also important sources of secondary data.
 
(g)  Journals and News Papers:
 
Journals and News Papers are very important and powerful source of secondary data. Current and important materials on statistics and socio-economic problems can be obtained from journals and newspapers like Economic Times, Commerce, Capital, Indian Finance, Monthly Statistics of trade etc.
 

Unpublished Sources:

 
Unpublished data can be obtained from many unpublished sources like records maintained by various government and private offices, the theses of the numerous research scholars in the universities or institutions etc.
 

Precautions In The Use Of Secondary Data:

 
Since secondary data have already been obtained, it is highly desirable that a proper scrutiny of such data is made before they are used by the investigator. In fact the user has to be extra-cautious while using secondary data. In this context Prof. Bowley rightly points out that “Secondary data should not be accepted at their face value.” The reason being that data may be erroneous in many respects due to bias, inadequate size of the sample, substitution, errors of definition, arithmetical errors etc. Even if there is no error such data may not be suitable and adequate for the purpose of the enquiry. Prof. SimonKuznet’s view in this regard is also of great importance. According to him, “the degree of reliability of secondary source is to be assessed from the source, the compiler and his capacity to produce correct statistics and the users also, for the most part, tend to accept a series particularly one issued by a government agency at its face value without enquiring its reliability”.
 
Therefore, before using the secondary data the investigators should consider the following factors:
                        

The Suitability Of Data:

 
 
The investigator must satisfy himself that the data available are suitable for the purpose of enquiry. It can be judged by the nature and scope of the present enquiry with the original enquiry. For example, if the object of the present enquiry is to study the trend in retail prices, and if the data provide only wholesale prices, such data are unsuitable.
 

(A)  Adequacy Of Data:

 
 
If the data are suitable for the purpose of investigation then we must consider whether the data are useful or adequate for the present analysis. It can be studied by the geographical area covered by the original enquiry. The time for which data are available is very important element. In the above example, if our object is to study the retail price trend of india, and if the available data cover only the retail price trend in the state of bihar, then it would not serve the purpose.
 

(b)  Reliability Of Data:

 
 
The reliability of data is must. Without which there is no meaning in research. The reliability of data can be tested by finding out the agency that collected such data. If the agency has used proper methods in collection of data, statistics may be relied upon.
 
It is not enough to have baskets of data in hand. In fact, data in a raw form are nothing but a handful of raw material waiting for proper processing so that they can become useful. Once data have been obtained from primary or secondary source, the next step in a statistical investigation is to edit the data i.e. To scrutinize the same. The chief objective of editing is to detect possible errors and irregularities. The task of editing is a highly specialized one and requires great care and attention. Negligence in this respect may render useless the findings of an otherwise valuable study. Editing data collected from internal records and published sources is relatively simple but the data collected from a survey need excessive editing.
 
While editing primary data, the following considerations should be borne in mind:

1. The data should be complete in every respect
       
2. The data should be accurate
 
3. The data should be consistent, and
 
4. The data should be homogeneous.
 
Data to posses the above mentioned characteristics have to undergo the same type of editing which is discussed below:
 

Editing for Completeness:

 
while editing, the editor should see that each schedule and questionnaire is complete in all respects. He should see to it that the answers to each and every question have been furnished. If some questions are not answered and if they are of vital importance, the informants should be contacted again either personally or through correspondence. Even after all the efforts it may happen that a few questions remain unanswered. In such questions, the editor should mark ‘No answer’ in the space provided for answers and if the questions are of vital importance then the schedule or questionnaire should be dropped.
 

(a)  Editing for Consistency:

 
 
At the time of editing the data for consistency, the editor should see that the answers to questions are not contradictory in nature. If they are mutually contradictory answers, he should try to obtain the correct answers either by referring back the questionnaire or by contacting, wherever possible, the informant in person. For example, if amongst others, two questions in questionnaire are (a) Are you a student? (b) Which class do you study and the reply to the first question is ‘no’ and to the latter ‘tenth’ then there is contradiction and it should be clarified.
 

(b)  Editing for Accuracy:

 
The reliability of conclusions depends basically on the correctness of information. If the information supplied is wrong, conclusions can never be valid. It is, therefore, necessary for the editor to see that the information is accurate in all respects. If the inaccuracy is due to arithmetical errors, it can be easily detected and corrected. But if the cause of inaccuracy is faulty information supplied, it may be difficult to verify it and an example of this kind is information relating to income, age etc.

(c)  Editing For Homogeneity:

 
Homogeneity means the condition in which all the questions have been understood in the same sense. The editor must check all the questions for uniform interpretation. For example, as to the question of income, if some informants have given monthly income, others annual income and still others weekly income or even daily income, no comparison can be made. Therefore, it becomes an essential duty of the editor to check up that the information supplied by the various people is homogeneous and uniform.
 

 

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