Primary data is that which is obtained by soliciting direct responses from individuals being queried. These individuals are reporting their personal experience, attitudes and feelings. Primary data is the outcome of interviewing and survey methods. Secondary data is information obtained by reviewing the existing academic literature consisting of studies that have been done, analyzing what is “out there”, and determining trends or patterns of evidence from many studies. Problems with primary data include the possibility that the research design is limited in the fact that it is given to a strictly controlled, limited group, which may not be representative of the overall population.
The results from a convenience sample cannot be generalized to the population. Factors including but not limited to gender, nationality, economic situation and others could be expected to impact the effectiveness of application of results to ‘real world’ situations. Sometimes researchers choose to disregard their own interpretations and to accept those of respondents at face value. This can be cozy but may lead to collusion: Atkinson has warned of the dangers of “romanticizing” respondents’ accounts (Anastas, 12004). Problems with secondary data is that the researcher was not personally involved and does not know how relatively rigorously the research was done; this may compromise his/her observations and analysis.
Different methods used in qualitative research furnish parallel datasets, each affording only a partial view of the whole picture; this is a natural feature of qualitative research, in that it acknowledges that there are different views of reality which have equal validity. Therefore, it is effective to look for results that are comparable rather than in agreement, and which may be mutually supportive.