While a textbook is a great example of secondary research, surveys, interviews, and observations are all examples of primary research that will help develop a project in different ways. Here’s how to conduct primary research using surveys!
Types of primary research
There are a variety of types of primary research that exist, and each serves a different purpose depending on your proposed project.
The information below will help you to discern what types of primary research exist, how much time you’ll need to conduct the research, and how many people it is suitable for.
Surveys are an ideal form of primary research if you want to target a large group of people. If you need significant data and want to poll a sizable group, then this is an ideal option. There are a number of free survey platforms out there that will allow you to customize your survey and conduct your primary research.
Now, keep in mind that surveys can provide only certain types of information. Unless you have several “fill-in” questions that ask for a person’s information in detail, you’re likely going to be relying on categorized answers, which doesn’t give your participants much time to elaborate.
However, this type of primary research is quick, effective, and relatively easy to conduct on your own.
If you’re looking for in-depth information from a lesser number of people, then interviews are a better option than a survey in terms of primary research. Interviews can be conducted in a one-on-one format, or they can be done in small focus groups.
You can select who you want to talk to about a topic, such as an expert or particular opinion, and feature it in whatever project, blog post or feature you’re working on.
Observations involve a less concrete form of primary research. In this form, you’ll be taking organized notes about occurrences on your topics. This could involve people, places, events but isn’t always practical depending on your topic.
For example, if you want to find out what it was like to live in the 1960s, then you could conduct a survey or interview people who lived in that time period, but it isn’t possible for you to observe that information yourself.
When you should use primary research
Primary research shouldn’t always be your immediate go-to. While it’s an effective method of research, it isn’t always possible and sometimes there are existing secondary sources that provide you better information.
If you’re working on a history project, for example, you may not be able to rely on primary research because secondary research will inform you of your topic in a much better way. That said, there are a number of cases when primary research can and should be used.
Surveys, in particular, are a useful mechanism because they provide statistics that are often powerful in persuading any audience. Here’s what to think about before you conduct a survey of your own.
How relevant is the data to your project?
If you’re looking to conduct a survey to market content for your own company, then utilizing primary research is far more advantageous than secondary research. Why?
Because primary research is much more relevant to your specific audience and their needs. If they’ve filled out a survey for you, you’ll be collecting precise demographic data about your clients and won’t have to rely on someone else’s research.
That’s incredibly beneficial if you’re looking for tangible results at the end.
Will the data carry significance?
Primary research, especially in the form of surveys, often provides statistics and data that is used to inform the audience of how your topic relates to them. However, people often react better to this type of information when it’s provided by a name with authority.
If you’ll conduct a survey that will have nearly the same information of a survey that already exists from the government or a big-name company, then it might be worth saving the time and effort involved.
That said, if you can provide information specific to your product, service or audience, then research on this topic is absolutely worth it.
Will you be providing statistically valid information?
When it comes to surveys, statistical validity really matters to your audience. They want to know that you’re providing valid information.
The biggest part of this equation is ensuring that you’ll have a large enough sample size (enough survey participants) for your survey to be statistically valid. This number will largely depend on how many people are in your population overall.
If you can do all of the above and want to make sure that your information is actually relevant to your audience, surveys are some of the best research that you can do.
Conducting primary research is a fool-proof way to ensure that you have exactly what you need for a successful project. The information that you gain through a survey, interview (individual or focus group) or observations ensure that you can serve your audience in the most efficient way possible.
If you’re a business owner, this information can also help demonstrate certain ideas or benefits to your customers about your product or service. Surveys, in particular, are easy to conduct and provide information you can use over an extended period of time.