Week 1 Task 6

Complete a posting about the below attached article in 100
words or more.

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Primary vs. Secondary Research

– In this chapter we’ll discuss
a variety of research methods.
A research method is a structured process
of collecting data.
Research methods are defined by the quality,
such as who did it, how was the information collected,
when was it done, and why was it done.
Understanding what research methods are and how they work
will help you to better plan
and discuss your research process.
Most projects you’ll encounter will include
a variety of different methods that work together
to achieve a greater understanding of the problem.

Let’s start with two that are closely related,
secondary research, research that was done by someone else,
and primary research,
research that’s your own original work.
Let’s start by looking closer at secondary research.
Think of it like this.
A teacher asks his students to write
a research paper on a historical event.
So, the students head to the library,
review books and articles and video documentaries
and then use that information they’ve gathered
to help write their papers.
That’s secondary research.

Secondary research sources can be books,
magazine articles, academic journals, case studies,
market reports, basically any credible source
that has been published, information for anyone to access.
Secondary research is a great method
to begin your research process with.
Let’s say you’ve just been given a project
to design a mobile app for college students.
The app is supposed to promote healthy living habits.
You’ve never worked with college students before,
nor are you an expert on exercise or healthy eating.

So what can you do?
You can start by reviewing written materials
on exercising, healthy living, and college student life.
The information you learn from this
will help you to define your approach to the problem.
Secondary research can also help you
understand what you don’t know.
For instance, after reviewing some initial
sources of information, you realize you know very little
about what motivates college students to be healthy.
Therefore, this could be a good opportunity
for you to identify other more specific sources,
such as books, articles, and journals
that address this issue.

You might even realize something like this
that’s much easier to learn through primary research,
simply by interviewing some college students.
A word of caution.
When doing this kind of research,
you should be careful about getting
too consumed in knowledge.
What I mean is that it’s very easy to become overwhelmed
and even lost in information.
Believe me, you can spend days chasing down data
that you might not necessarily need
or might not even exist.
So, know what you’re looking for,
and if you can’t find it, move on.

There will be other opportunities to learn it.
Now let’s consider primary research.
Primary research is research conducted by you
or anyone on your team that observes
and collects information directly from the context
of the design problem.
Primary research uses a number of research tools
to collect that information.
Typically, it follows your initial secondary research,
after you have a better understanding
of what you’re looking for.
Let’s go back to our original problem.
Design a healthy living app for college students.

Remember, after your secondary research
you’re still not sure what motivates
college students to be healthy.
So, you conduct a series of interviews
and observations of college students,
to learn more about their lifestyle,
how they behave, and what makes them want to be healthy.
The value of this research is that it enables you
to collect information you couldn’t learn
through secondary research.
It is context-specific.
It collects data from your target audience
in a specific environment,
and it’s comprehensive, so you can learn a lot.

Collecting primary research is a tricky process.
It takes careful planning and a keen understanding
of the different research tools used to gather information.
For instance, it’s very easy to observe a group of people
through your own judgmental mindset,
seeing only what you want to see.
It’s also easy to only ask certain interview questions
that will give you the answers you want to hear.
So pay particular attention to the lessons
in chapter four, where we discuss
how to practice different research tools
used in primary research.
Finally, remember that both primary and secondary research
are often used together in a project,
to complement one another.

If the information you’re looking for
exists in secondary sources, great.
You should use it.
But often times it may need to be complemented
with a more targeted investigation using primary research.