Type: Analysis
Pages: 5 | Words: 1213
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Secondary data analysis refers to a research method that involves the use of data previously gathered by a different researcher for a different purpose that the data was not primarily intended for. It is the process of reusing or reanalyzing data. Maxfield (2006) defines secondary analysis as the process of re-analyzing either qualitative or quantitative data already collected in a previous research study by another researcher. Researchers who wish to address new research questions different from the original one that the data was used to answer usually use secondary data analysis. Secondary data can be obtained from various sources which include government bureaus or agencies, for example, statistical data obtained from population or housing census and national employment rates, internal records within an organization, previous research surveys conducted by individual researchers and print media found in national libraries as well as other electronic sources such as the internet and videos. Secondary data can also be obtained directly from the researchers or authors in summary forms. Secondary data can also be divided into qualitative and quantitative data.

Advantages of Using Secondary Data.One of the major advantages of using secondary data is that it helps in saving time. Secondary data is readily available thus helping the researcher in reducing the time that he would otherwise spend for data collection. Similarly, the use of secondary data helps in non-duplication of research studies. This helps in reducing the cost of doing research. In my view, the cost and time of collecting data through secondary data analysis is greatly reduced, because the data is easily accessible. Vartanian (2011) also supports the idea that secondary data is considerably cheaper to use compared to primary data.

The third advantage of using secondary data is its ability to provide a large volume of data that a single researcher would not be able to collect at a time. In addition, secondary data present various expertise and professionalisms that an individual researcher may not have during data collection. Secondary data is also useful in carrying out small researches or projects that may not have adequate resources to hire professionals and experts.

The use of secondary data is also very essential when analyzing various social and economic changes that had occurred in the past. This is because it is nearly impossible to conduct research on past occurrences.

Secondary data also forms a suitable baseline for subsequent primary researches. In this way, results of subsequent researches are compared to the results of the previous researches found through secondary data. Thus, it is useful in research design of subsequent primary studies. Moreover, secondary data can also be compared with primary data to establish its validity and reliability.

Most researchers also prefer to use secondary because it is permanent, that is, it is stored in archives where it can be accessed anytime. According to Bowering (2008), secondary data is presented in a network of archives that makes the data readily available and easily accessible.

Disadvantages of Using Secondary Data.On the other hand, secondary data may fail to adequately answer or address specific questions raised by the researcher. In my opinion, secondary data may lack the capacity to provide specific information that the researcher may be looking for. Similarly, the data may have been collected outside the geographical area, population or period of interest of the researcher, thus may be irrelevant. According to Kiecolt and Nathan (2010), irrelevancy and mismatch of secondary data may also become obvious when the purpose for which it was collected is different from the one it is currently used for.

Secondly, certain sets of secondary data such as government statistics on national population or ethnic composition may not be easy to access. Similarly, secondary data from certain professional studies such as market researches by a company may not be available to its competitors. In some cases, a researcher may sell his or her data to another researcher, thus making the use of secondary data more expensive.

Thirdly, a different researcher using secondary data does not know how the data was collected. This reduces the reliability of secondary data, because the researcher lacks the power to control or monitor data collection techniques during the original research. Secondary data may also be prone to personal biases from the researcher that the current user may not know. This reduces the validity and reliability of secondary data.

Last but not the least, secondary data may be obsolete, for example, data collected on the effect of technology on crime rates in the United States of America between 1980 and 1985 may not be relevant for the use in a criminology and justice research in 2012. This is due to the numerous technological advancements that have taken place since 1985.

Evaluation Research.An evaluation research refers to a research study undertaken to assess the performance of a program or project. An evaluation research systematically assesses the ability of a program or project to meet the requirements or to achieve the set goals and objectives (Bailin & Grafstein, 2010; Weiss, 2007).

In relation to the given scenario, as a researcher of criminology, justice, and community policing, I would ensure that staff members in the police department comprehensively understand the purpose, goals, and objectives of evaluation during the research study. This would include providing detailed explanations of importance of the evaluation research to the staff members. For example, I would assure them that the research evaluation is meant to measure performance of various components of the community policing, improve information sharing between staff members of the police department and the community as well as provide various alternatives for improving the effectiveness of community policing programs.

Similarly, I would assure the staff members that the research evaluation would help in explaining underlying logics behind community policing. The evaluation of community policing program would also help in identifying various components that require improvement.

I would also ensure that conflicts of interest between various parties or stakeholders in the research study are highly reduced. I would also assure the staff members that their jobs or other components of the community policing programs will not be affected by the outcomes of the evaluation research. In my view, when the staff members fully understand the purpose of the evaluation research, they would embrace it.

Formulation of the Research Plan.When formulating the research plan, I would outline various questions and methods to be used during the evaluation research. For example, experimental and qualitative models may be used to evaluate the programs. Evaluation techniques such as interviews, direct observations, and questionnaires may also be used to obtain information from the stakeholders.

The research plan should also be able to conduct both formative and summative evaluations. Through formative evaluation, the research plan would determine the needs of community policing programs, feasibility of the components of the community policing programs as well as the possibility of full implementation of the policing programs. On the other hand, summative evaluation would entail determination of the impacts of the community policing programs, investigate the possible effects of the components of the community policing programs and carry out an assessment of cost effectiveness of community policing programs as well as the various benefits that are likely to be derived from the initiative. To ensure that the results of the evaluation are reliable, retests shall be carried out to compare results obtained during the previous tests with results obtained during evaluation.

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