Disadvantages of Primary Research in Academic Articles and Publications


Data collection is a critical part of a dissertation or a thesis. Each thesis relies on a lot of data to conduct the research. Furthermore, the data must be adequate in terms of quality and quantity. This post focuses on data collection methods discussing disadvantages of the primary research method. There are two major research methods – primary and secondary. Primary research methodology is more independent and gives more control to a researcher. However, this method also has some disadvantages. This article lists main disadvantages of primary research methodology.

Primary research deals with the main source of data. Unlike secondary research which implies data collection from the already created database, the primary research collects data from the sample in an independent and controlled manner. This creates the key advantages of the methodology such as relevance, high quality as well full control over the collection process. Primary research implies first-hand data collection through different venues such as the following:

  • Interviewing process allows for effective data collection using the primary research. This allows for collection of the primary from the main source. Interview is the best fit for a small group of participants and significant information. The method is flexible and more versatile as well as relatively easy to conduct. However, personal bias can be an issue for a researcher.
  • Focus group. A focus group represents a great channel to gather data for a specific purpose. The focus group includes a group of experts with more knowledge about the topic. The method allows researchers to obtain more accurate information and improve quality of research.
  • This is a great method to collect primary data from a list of questions on a specific topic.
  • Surveying is also the type of primary data collection methodology. Online surveys are easier to organise and are more frequently used for academic research.
  • Observation is a great example of independent primary data collection. This method reduces the risk of personal bias. The observation is less expensive and less complicated. However, the method provides less information compared to surveys or interviews.

1. Disadvantages of primary research

Although primary research is common for researchers and has many great qualities, the methodology has a few significant disadvantages. Here is the list of major drawbacks of primary research:

  1. Primary research is expensive.
  2. Lack of experience.
  3. Time consumption of primary research.
  4. Unique data that cannot be easily compared.
  5. Feasibility of research is limited.
  6. Accessibility of the primary research.
  7. Participants’ bias is an issue.
  8. Complexity of primary research.

1.1 Primary research is expensive

The first disadvantage of primary research relates to its cost. Primary research takes a lot of resources to gather data. Primary data is the most relevant and is likely to be of higher quality, but it is costly to create the environment suitable for data collection. Data collection through primary research method requires software for data collection and analysis as well as adequate sample to gather reliable data. In addition, reliability of data links to sample size. There is a positive correlation between sample size and cost of primary research. Therefore, cost is probably the main limitation of primary research and the reason why many students switch to secondary research.

1.2 Lack of experience

Another disadvantage relates to complexity of primary research. This method is more complicated than secondary research and requires a lot more expertise. This means that the lack of experience can be a significant problem for a researcher. This is even more significant for a student. The lack of research experience makes primary research more complicated for a researcher. In addition, it is important to note that this is even more serious for students. Since primary research is more complex than secondary research and it takes a lot more experience to conduct, many students switch to an alternative such as secondary research. Therefore, experience is another disadvantage of the primary research method.

1.3 Time consumption of primary research

Primary research is also time-consuming. This is another disadvantage of the research method. Effective research takes a lot of time and effort because a researcher needs to design the research methodology and collect data. Furthermore, primary data collection is a tedious process as well. This takes some experience and expertise and technological capabilities to gather and process a lot of data from primary sources. Research design is problematic, too. A lot of time is needed for development of a questionnaire an/or survey. In addition, a researcher needs to spend time on strategy development for primary research. This takes a lot of theoretical and practical work. A researcher needs to dedicate more time to primary research compared to secondary data collection. Therefore, time consumption of primary research is a significant drawback of the research method.

1.4 Unique data that cannot be easily compared

Comparison of data is helpful for researchers. This is an important feature that allow for more comprehensive data analysis. Primary research works with primary or unique data. This is bad in terms of comparison because primary data is specific and often cannot be compared. In this case, research is constrained to specific objectives and primary data can be a barrier for analysis. Furthermore, this reduces research capabilities thereby hampering quality of research. In addition, the unique can be of lower quality. Therefore, this demand even more complex rules for data collection. This means that the primary data makes a complex process even more complicated which is a problem for researchers. Therefore, the unique primary data can be a disadvantage of the research method.

1.5 Limited feasibility of research

Another disadvantage of primary research relates to its feasibility. Unlike secondary research method when there is a lot of secondary data provided by soe database, primary data must come from a specific target. However, sometimes this is difficult or even impossible to obtain the data. Primary research method is inferior to secondary method in terms of feasibility. There is a lot more obstacles to obtain the data. Data collection must be based on a significant sample with adequate size, but there is a problem to find the sample for research. Therefore, limited feasibility is a significant limitation of the primary research method.

1.6 Accessibility of the primary research

Accessibility of primary research is also an issue for students. Sometimes it can be difficult to find and prepare a reliable sample. In this case, data collection can lack efficiency for a research project. Some projects may require historical data and primary research would be inadequate for this task. In this case, secondary research method provides an opportunity collect historical data. In addition, it can be difficult to find the required number of participants for primary research. However, primary research gives more control over data collection. Hence, accessibility can be a significant disadvantage of the primary research method.

1.7 Participants’ bias is an issue

Another disadvantage of primary research is associated with bias of participants of your survey or a focus group. The method allows for more targeted and more effective data collection that better fits with your research objectives than secondary research. However, primary research is more exposed to the risk of biased results. This means that participants’ bias can be a significant issue for a researcher. This leads to biased results that will not allow for effective research. This means that it takes more effort and time in designing primary research to minimise the rise of bias. This makes the research method even more complicated. Therefore, participants’ bias generates a disadvantage of a primary research method.

1.8 Complexity of primary research

A primary research method is more complex compared to secondary research. The method is more time consuming, takes a lot more effort, and more experience to collect data. The secondary research requires more focused research design. The bias of participants demands more interaction with participants and more effort to select the right sample. Generally, primary research provides more reliable data and gives more control over data collection. However, the method is more complicated than secondary research. Therefore, complexity is a disadvantage of the primary research method.


2. Tips on primary research to cope with its problems

The following is the list of tips that can help minimise disadvantages of a primary research method:

  1. Plan and review your budget for data collection.
  2. Plan your time.
  3. Start with your research objectives.
  4. Review methods for your research.
  5. Examine related projects to get more understanding.
  6. Pay more attention to selecting your research participants.

2.1 Plan and review your budget for data collection.

Primary research is costly and this is a big problem for academics and researchers. However, there is a solution that can help better manage your costs to get more from primary research. The solution is planning and management for data collection. A researcher can weigh all costs and benefits when choosing the research methods and research participants. The key is to plan for your primary research and focus on most productive channels and methods. The budget will help better manage costs and increase efficiency of data collection.

2.2 Plan your time.

Time management is another great tip to improve primary research. The method is quite time-intensive but a plan with main milestones can be an effective tool to manage data collection for your research project. Hence, it is a good idea to plan your time when doing primary research.  This will help to improve quality of your work and simplify the research. In addition, planning will save some time on research.

2.3 Start with your research objectives.

It is important to have a well-defined and formulated research purpose and research objectives. This is critical for primary research to properly identify your research objectives to develop methods for your research. The design of primary research is an important issue which largely determines your results. The right design for your primary research will allow for more effective data collection. This results in lower costs and less time requirements for your research project. Furthermore, research design can boost reliability and validity of your data. Hence, it is important to start from your objective when doing primary research.

2.4 Review methods for your research.

There are different methods and channels for primary research. It is a good idea to spend some time on review and analysis of different methods for your research. For some projects, online survey can be the best choice for primary research. More complicated projects may need something more tailored such as a focus group or an interview for data collection. Therefore, you need to study your research objectives and review different methods of primary research to choose the most suitable for your needs.

2.5 Examine related projects to get more understanding.

Another tip to cope with complexity of primary research is to examine and compare related projects that have been already done on your project or similar projects. This will help you get more understanding of primary research in general and get more clues about your project. In addition, you can find gaps in previous research and better structure your methodology to get better results. Comparison also helps improve the quality of your research design. Therefore, it is a good idea to look at similar projects and use information in your research.

2.6 Pay more attention to participant selection.

One of the main drawbacks of primary research relates to personal bias and subjectivity. A good solution is to improve selection of participants for your primary research. This will help reduce the risk of personal bias. In addition, the participant selection is important to get reliable results from your primary research. Therefore, pay more attention to selecting participants for your research.

Bottom Line

Research projects require a lot of high-quality data. There are two global approaches to data gathering – primary and secondary research. This article considered major disadvantages of primary research and a few tips on how to conduct primary research. The key issues are cost, time, and complexity of primary research. Major solutions to improve primary research include planning, cost management, participants selection as well as analysis of related projects.