Primary data: new data collected specifically for the purpose of answering a research question.
Information directly relevant to a study or a project can be collected as primary data. New data collection tools can be designed to gather this information, or existing data collection tools can be tailored to suit the aims and context of a new project. Participants of a specific demographic, or with a certain shared experience, may be purposively selected to participate in the data collection to help answer the research question. It’s possible to choose from a number of different data collection processes and methods. Ensure to select methods that are appropriate for your study population and which collect a suitable depth of information to meet project requirements. By overseeing research tool development and data collection processes, it’s possible to gauge the quality of the data.
Collecting new data takes time and can be costly, particularly when collecting data from a large population or over a large geographical area. Primary data collection can require the employment and training of research staff, payment for participant involvement in the project, costs associated with infrastructure for data collection, and data collection equipment. Obtaining ethical approval to ensure the project is of low risk to participants can also be a lengthy process, with application and review processes varying between different Ethics Committees. Pre-existing, high-quality, routinely-collected data is often available from government departments or organisations which, through secondary data analysis, can provide population-level information that can be relevant to a number of fields or projects.