Sources of Information

Primary and Secondary Sources
Primary sources constitute first hand information. These are original documents and reports by actual participants or direct observers. Secondary sources constitute already existing information. Examples of both: oral histories, diaries, mass media reports, case studies, existing literature, interviews, official statistics, experiments, public records.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Primary and Secondary Sources
Primary Strengths: - the researcher can examine the respondents in greater detail - the researcher is likely to acquire more information - the researcher is more likely to find out the truth. Weakness: - the researcher¶s presence is likely to influence the respondents behaviour (interviewer bias).

Secondary
Strengths: - are cheap and quick to use - allow the researcher to go back in time - compare one period with another Weaknesses: The researcher may not be able to check : - how accurate they are - how objective they are - -the purpose for which they were originally collected

Criteria for Judging Data Sources
‡ Relevance ± the information taken from existing literature must be relevant to the problem under study. It is also suggested that information that is older than 10 years should not be used. ‡ Objectivity ± the researcher must be aware of a number of issues when gathering data. For example, the source could be biased, could have an interest in the outcome or could be influenced by monetary rewards. ‡ Adequacy ± this concerns whether the souces from which the data are gathered are sufficienct to generalize the findings.

Research conclusions cannot be taken seriously if there is a question about the quality of the data from which the conclusions are drawn. Researchers must scrutinize data to make sure that they are authentic and believable.

Authenticity: Is the evidence genuine or fake? Can if be
verified? Is there any attempt to deliberately mislead the researcher?

Believablility: Are the facts correct? Do the data come
from real people, objects or events? Is the respondent being truthful?

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