Research Question and Secondary Data
The question of whether research questions should come before or after a review of the secondary data can be answered based on two main parameters rationales. Firstly, the essential understanding of the previous researcher in the same field or discipline. Secondly, the cost-benefit analysis of collecting primary data may yield more accurate information. Whichever way, the decision of the approach, whether to start with the research question or to review data, the ultimate aim is to deliver an accurately researched analysis. The assessment of the interlink between research questions and secondary data guides this process
Research by Johnston (2017) has established a strong positive correlation between the secondary data and research questions. According to the author, research requires that the researcher understands the specific question that should be addressed before the research. Research questions are devised before reviewing the secondary in the instance, where the research topic is a new and green area of research (Kelder, 2005).
There are certain inherent disadvantages in starting with secondary data, then matching it with the appropriate research question. One of the significant challenges is the accuracy of information gathered from secondary sources. Pegging the structure of the research question on the review of secondary sources leads to an indefinite research direction (Elm, Altman, Egger, Pocock & Gøtzsche, 2007). The inaccuracy that may arise from the misunderstanding of the range of research confuses the research direction. It also leads to a significant shift of the research from its original design to an unintended avenue.
Developing a research question before reviewing secondary data is considered the ideal approach. With a research question, the researcher can focus on an explicit research objective that sticks to the gap of knowledge that ought to be bridged (Fullerton & Lee, 2011). The formulation of the research question and analysis of secondary data have a significant role to play in designing the trajectory of a research outcome.
Kelder, J. A. (2005). Using someone else’s data: Problems, pragmatics, and provisions. In Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research (Vol. 6, No. 1).
Elm, E., Altman, D. G., Egger, M., Pocock, S. J., & Gøtzsche, P. C. (2007). The strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE) statement. Epidemiology, 18(6), 800-804.
Johnston, M. P. (2017). Secondary data analysis: A method of which the time has come. Qualitative and quantitative methods in libraries, 3(3), 619-626.
Fullerton, S. M., & Lee, S. S. (2011). Secondary uses and the governance of de-identified data: lessons from the human genome diversity panel. BMC medical ethics, 12(1), 16.
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