by Deborah Zornes.  

Great posts on primary vs secondary research in the padlet. There will be more discussion this coming week on this topic but I thought I'd give you a few pieces to consider. There is not a 'better than' issue here - both primary and secondary research can be of equally high quality and credibility. Similarly, if they are not done well, following established methods, they can be unreliable, and considered not to be 'good' research.  Both have very different roles and goals. Here is an example .... Let's say that you want to study something about research quality. You might develop a study that is primary research and includes: a) a survey of 90 of Canada's top researchers (defined as holding Canada Research Chairs and maybe you would have 30 from the social sciences; 30 from sciences and engineering; and 30 from health) asking them to provide information on what determines quality it research; and b) a set of interviews of 10 of those same researchers from each of the three groups where you ask more detailed questions and gather data. You would then use various data analysis techniques and come up with your conclusions based on that data. 

However, you might approach this from a secondary research perspective, and do a systematic literature review or a meta-synthesis where you would gather peer reviewed journal articles that were studies done on research quality. You would determine inclusion/exclusion criteria, outline a step by step process for gathering the data (in this case article and reports). This may give you 1,000 or more studies to look at, Your inclusion/exclusion criteria may whittle that down to 500, or 100, or fewer, or more, and those become your data. You would then go through and look at the results of those studies, the conclusions drawn, develop themes, and draw conclusions.

Both are valid, both are credible, and both are 'good' research if they are done properly. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) which is one of the three government funders of the bulk of research in Canada (along with NSERC - Natural Science and  Engineering Research) and CIHR (Cdn Institutes of Health Research) often do a funding call for secondary research on certain themes to try and understand what all of the research done on a particular subject tells us about the topic. They also fund primary research, sometimes through various initiatives, and other times wide open for any topic under the social sciences and humanities.

And so, that's just some further information as you start to develop your understanding of research -- neither is better than the other; each has value; and each has particular roles to play in terms of discovery.

Deb