Desk research, known also as secondary research, means analyzing existing data collected in previous research, that is to say it screens and then analyzes secondary data. This term is used in opposition to field research for which data are collected from real operations such as focus groups, one-to-one interview, experiments. Desk research is usually regarded as the first step of a marketing research.
A successful desk research relies on the sources from existing data. There is a variety of sources which can be classified as the following ones:
– Internal information of a company (shipping list, financial statements, sales notes, client lists, etc.)
– Government’s data: one of the most important responsibilities of resident office of each contry is to promote mutual commercial communication, to collect market information. Through these resident offices, we can be aware of the market information , such as trade statistics and the import-export directory, etc.
– The data published by international organisations, trades union and chamber of commerce. For instance, World Trade Organisation provides researches of special goods and each country’s market studying, etc. Many trades union collect or publish regularly informations about its products. Chamber of commerce provides list of people and enterprises.
Moreover, we can get secondary data from banks, market research companies, unions of consumers, libraries, etc.
Facing so much information, one should know how to collect what is useful for his research and what helps to obtain his target. Then it is the concern about the procedure of desk reseach. Firstly, we should test and verify these data, for its origin varies a lot and not every information is related to our studying. Totally, we can consider the following five concepts when invaluate the secondary data.
– Content: whether the existing data is complete or not, whether it meets the requirements of the treated subject or not.
– Level: whether the existing data is professional or not
– Time validity: whether the existing data is invalidated
– Accuracy: whether the existing data is credible or not
– Facility: what cost and time it spends to have access to the data
Through a desk research, secondary data are seen as treated target, we should be logic in choosing these information so that the studying results turn to be reasonable. Generally speaking, information collection ranks from normal one to special one. During the course of research, the project assistant knows better where to go and what to be done in his further research. After the report finished as the last step of the research, the desk research is almost over. However, in most times, the field research is needed and is widely accepted as a nice tool to improve the management level. So, it is compulsory to use field research when desk research can’t help to reach some objectives.
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Written by Pu Dan from Daxue Consulting China