What is secondary data and where is located?

Secondary data is usually defined in opposition to primary data. The latter is directly obtained from first-hand sources by mean of questionnaire, observation, focus group or in-depth interviews, while the former refers to data collected by someone other than the user. In other words, data that has already been collected for some other purpose. Yet, such data may be very useful for your own research purpose.

A review of the literature accounts for many varieties of classification for secondary data (Bryman 1989, Dale et al. 1988; Robson, 202). Suffice it to mention Kervin classification (1992) who distinguish between raw data and compiled data. Regarding the former one, there has been little if any processing, while the latter one has received some form of selection or summarizing. Among the first type of secondary data it is worth mentioning those coming from organizations´ databases, organizations´ websites or newspaper, among other. Second type, compiled data, refers to for instance, government publications, books, journals or industry statistic and reports, among others.

There would be a third type of secondary data that is in between both raw and compiled, they were collected via survey strategy. For instance, census of population, continuous and regular surveys such as government family spending, labor market trends, employee attitude surveys, etc.; and last but not least, ad hoc surveys, i.e. those non-regular basis survey made by some organization.

Where is secondary data located? Your public or university library is still a great place to find relevant data for any project, especially with regard to books or encyclopedias. But the truth is that in the so called Internet society, a lot of worthy material is usually available via Internet or, at least, the references to such material. The use of key words may sometimes be enough to come across relevant secondary data via the most common search engine. However, the breadth of information on the net may be unmanageable or, what is worse, you may waste a lot of time on the always difficult task of discriminating between what is a bogus or a true research

In this case it is highly recommendable to do customized searches via specific sources. Below are three kinds of sources that may help you on that venture:

1. Public statistical providers. Identify the main provider of statistical information, which is usually dependent on the government. Bureau of the Census of US or Central Statistical Office in the case of Poland. Find here a list of National Statistical Offices web-sites. The you have other international statistic offices such as Eurostat, where you will find social and economic indicators from all over the European Union members; as well as worldwide organizations such as OECD.Stat which includes data and metadata for OECD countries and selected non-member economies; or United Nations Statistic.

2. Specialized search engines. To use these you need to define your general subject area prior to your search. For instance, such database as Econlit count with their own search engine that focus only on economics and management publications, or The Financial Times Historical Archive in case of financial studies. Although the access to some of them may be for a fee, note that your own institution or University could perfectly be a subscriber. It is also worth mentioning Google Scholar. Its use is also becoming quite common within academia. It is not specialized in any particular subject, but discriminate efficiently among academics and non-academics publications. Finally, social networks are also shifting the way secondary data and review of literature is understood. Academia.edu is probably one of the most known and worldwide used academic networks. Counting with its own search engine, you can find not only relevant publications but also other scholars and professionals working on your topic.

3. Organizations related to your research topic. Finally, note that ample and relevant information may be obtained from organizations related to your research topic. Imaging your research focuses intellectual property issues. Visiting World Intellectual Property Organization is a must for you. The same would happen with the World Health Organization if you address health related issues. Equally when the focus is on a specific industry. Every industry normally counts with its own national and/or international organization. Euromines for minig, World Tourism Organization for the touristic industry. Should you happen to be interested on working rights, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) website and, concretly, its global index report is an interesting source for you. Note that your topic, especially when is very specific, may not have any organization related. It may be due to two main reasons that should make you think over. First, your topic is not enough relevant and then you should consider another one. Second, your topic refers to a very new phenomenon and the interest lays on its emerging nature (Exploratory approach would be the most convenient for you)

Reference list

Bryman, A. (2004). Research methods and organization studies (Vol. 20). Routledge.

Dale, A., Arber, S., & Procter, M. (1988). Doing secondary analysis (pp. 15-18). London: Unwin Hyman.

Kervin, J. B. (1992). Methods for business research. HarperCollinsPublishers.

Robson, C. (2002). Real world research: A resource for social scientists and practitioner-researchers (Vol. 2). Oxford: Blackwell.

Saunders, Mark NK, et al. Research Methods For Business Students, 5/e. Pearson Education India, 2011.


The use of the first/third person. Qualitative evaluation of research proposal. part 3

After having examined qualitatively the major research proposals weakness in terms of connection with theory and writing style, this post aims to highlight the importance of the person used in academic writing:

Bear in mind that the writing style and the person to be used may vary from one context to another and from one institution to another. However, as far as academic writing is concerned, third person must be used generally. Additionally, the most recognized writing style for social and behavioral sciences, the one provided by the American Psychological Association, also recommends, with some exceptions, the use of third person.

Your research proposals, as well as the research project itself, fall within what is considered academic writing.

The use of first and third person

Although there are exceptions, (for example, if you are discussing a field trip that you personally took in order to conduct research or interviews that you carried out), normally academic writing does not make use of the first person. This means you would not use ‘I’ in your essays. Therefore, instead of writing ‘I will argue’, you might write ‘this research will argue’. The first reason for this is that academic writing must be formal and impersonal.
Consider the difference between these two sentences:

1. ‘In this proposal, I will discuss the reasons why talent estrategy is important to the improvement of Chinese economy

2. “Talent strategy is important to the improvement of Chinesses economy”

Not only is the second sentence more formal because it does not make use of the personal ‘I’, but it is also more direct and thus sounds clearer, more concise, and more academic. Instead of stating that a point will be made, as in the first sentence, the second sentence simply makes the point directly.

The second reason why the use of the first person is discouraged is that it is often redundant (unnecessary). Consider the difference between these two sentences:

1. “I believe that talent strategy is relevant to the improvement of Chinese economy”

2. Talent strategy is relevant to the improvement of Chinese economy”

It is unnecessary to state ‘I believe’. The reader knows that the statement is what the author believes, because the author is writing it in their proposal. Further, which sentence sounds more convincing? The second sentence sounds more convincing because it is direct and straight to the point.

Finally, the use of third person grants objectivity and avoid subjective statements. Academic writing is not about your opinions and feelings. It should be rooted in facts and not fictitious claims.

Writing style. Qualitative evaluation of research proposals. Part 2

Following the index provided in the previous post for a qualitative evaluation of the research proposals performed by the students of the subject Research methods from Faculty of Management and EconomicsGdansk University of Technology (Poland); the current post will focus the point related to writing style.

Four requirements of a good writing emerge from the difference between the two cases you can see below. First of all read carefully both cases and try to find the differences.


Luxury international is defined as “a beyond people’s survival and development needs of the range, with unique, rare, exotic features such as consumer goods, also known as non-necessities. Define in economics. Luxury is the ratio between the highest value and quality products. From another point of view, the luxury is an intangible value and tangible value of the ratio between the highest products. Consumption of luxury goods is an advance consumer behavior. The luxury the word itself has no derogatory. China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.


China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.

For this reason, the study of luxury goods demands has become more popular in China. Some authors suggest that the demand is higher because the GDP has grown considerably over last years. On the contrary, other authors suggest that what has really increased is the social inequality. In other words, the rich people are more and more rich and the poor ones more and more poor.

First of all, what is exactly a luxury good? It may be defined in three different ways:

Luxury product may be defined in three different ways:

1. In terms of personal need: luxury goods are also known as non-necessities and people demand for being unique, exotic or having a especial characteristic.

2. In economic terms: is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, and is a contrast to a “necessity good“. Luxury goods are often synonymous with superior goods.

2. In socioeconomic terms: luxury goods have a superior status due to their design, quality, durability or performance that is remarkably superior to the comparable substitutes.


What makes the second case more understandable is:

  1. Shorter sentences. One of the most common handicaps of an undergraduate research proposal is the length of the sentences. Whenever you use a very long sentences, composed by two, three or four sentences connected with no dot (.) or comma (,) but using such links as “which”, “that”, “therefore”, the complexity may make the sentence non understandable. On the contrary, if you construct several sentences, with a basic structure: subject (the research) + verb (aims) + Object (Luxury goods consumers behavior´s study) and supporting yourself with dots and commas the reader will be very grateful.
  2. Shorter paragraphs. Related with the previous one, a too long paragraph may turn out to make too complex the content. You must administrate the number of paragraphs in a way that each one provides a different argument.
  3. Using of connectors. Despite every paragraph must have their own argument, the truth is that all of them must be somehow connected. To do so we can also support our writing by mean connectors such as “for this reason”, “apart from”, “assuming this idea”, “first of all”, “secondly”, “finally”, etc. I will make the writing more understandable and easy for the reader.
  4. Using of list. Whenever you are enumerating a number of items, provide a list of them separately. It will give your writing more “oxygen” and let the reader visualize clearer the main points.
  5. Removal of too complex vocabulary. Try to avoid too complex words. Many people, especially undergraduate, tend to think that using very sophisticated words is a synonymous of major understanding. Far from reality, if you overuse this kind of words you will just make your writing pedantic and ununderstandable.
  6. Use of further explanations. But let´s be honest, sometimes we cannot avoid the use of complex words, simply because we really need them to explain what we want to explain. In this case, do not hesitate to use further explanations, i.e. explaining the same with different words. You construct a subsequent sentence starting by “in other words”, “in other terms”.

Qualitative evaluation of research proposals. Part 1

Apart from a more quantitative evaluation of the research proposals in the previous post What is the most common weakness in formulating a research proposal in this and in the next post you will find a more qualitative examination divided into the next points:

1. Lack of connection with theory.

2. Writing style

3. Person used

4. Clarity, structure and content of the research proposal background.

5. Interconnection between different parts of the proposal (background, research question and objectives)

This post will focus the first point, lack of connection with theory.

As you can appreciate in the quantitative analysis, being linked to theory is likely the most common weakness. But what does being linked to theory mean? It means that your research will not be “alone in the Universe”, that your research will be part of other researchers´ work that has contributed to a major understanding of the reality being studied. In other words, and using the metaphor of a puzzle, you must be able to find a gap to be cover by your “puzzle part”, i.e. by your research.

Unless you are entering an undiscovered cave? (which I do not think is your case taking into account your topic research) #criticallyreviewofliterature will provide you with previous works on your topic. To be more concrete, at this initial stage, you do not even need a very deep review. What you actually need is a so called “preliminary review”. In other words, you must perform a superficial search in some directory, like Google scholar, under the appropriate “keywords”. Actually, among the 11 steps required to do a successfull review of literature, finding keywords is likely the most important.

Have you already identified your keywords?

What are the most common weaknesses in formulating a research proposal?

Assuming as a good research proposal the points suggested in the previous post What is a good research? (excepts those on “are you fascinated with it” and “does it match your career goals” since it depends on you) and after having examined around 17 proposals, here you can see the results obtained from a quantitative approach. Please, note that every category has been rated on a scale from 1 to 3 where 1=low compliance level and 3 high compliance level. Therefore, values ​​close to 3 indicate a high compliance while values close to 1 rather low.

ranking 2