What Precautions should be taken before using Secondary Data?

In the plural sense, Statistics refers to facts or quantitative information that can be used to draw significant conclusions. Hence, for a student of Economics, the main purpose to collect data is to recognize, evaluate, and describe a social issue. For example, the problem of poverty or the problem of unemployment. For this, the investigator can analyze the data to find the causes and possible solutions to the problem. Thus, data collection plays an important role in the analysis of data, so it must be carefully collected. 

The data can be collected from two sources: primary sources and secondary sources. The primary source of data includes data collection from its origin. It provides first-hand quantitative information which is relevant to the study. The secondary source of data entails getting appropriate statistical information from an agency or institution that already has that information. It does not provide first-hand information, which is relevant to the study. Accordingly, different points must be kept in mind while using secondary data.

Connor has rightly said that ” Statistics especially other people’s Statistics is full of pitfalls for the others.” 

Precautions before using Secondary Data

The following points should be kept in mind before using Secondary Data:

  1. Is the data reliable?
  2. Is the data suitable for investigations?
  3. Is the data adequate?

To evaluate the reliability, applicability, and sufficiency of the data, the following points are to be kept in mind:

1. Capacity of the Collecting Organization: 

It is crucial to investigate the credibility of the entity that collected the data in the first place. The information should only be utilized if it was gathered by competent, qualified, and unbiased investigators.

2. Purpose and Scope: 

While collecting the data, the purpose of data collection and the extent of the investigation should be specified. Data should only be utilized if the present study’s objective and scope match the earlier study’s objective and scope. Moreover, the suitability of data can be decided for the present study by investigating the nature, homogeneity, unit, terms, etc., of the secondary data.

3. Collection Method:

It is important to note how the original researcher collected the data. The technique used must be appropriate for the type of study. The sampling process may be biased depending on the mechanism of sample selection. Before using secondary data, all things should be determined.

4. Accuracy:

The data should be verified for accuracy while using secondary data. It is crucial to use fair data to avoid biases and prejudices, which can lead to false conclusions. The data should be rejected if they don’t meet the required level of accuracy.

5. Time and Condition of Collection:

It is also necessary to consider the duration of the investigation as well as the conditions of the investigation while using secondary data. 

6. Definition of Unit:

The unit of measurement employed while collecting data for the first time must be the same as adopted in the present study. In case of a difference between units of measurement of initial data and the present study, data must be modified before further use.

In short as said by Bowley, “It is never safe to take published Statistics at their face value without knowing their limitations and meaning.”

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