Developing the Research Plan
Once the research problems and objectives have been defined, researchers must determine the exact information needed, develop a plan for gathering it efficiently, and present the plan to management. The research plan outlines sources of existing data and spells out the specific research approaches, contact methods, sampling plans, and instruments that researchers will use to gather new data.
a) Secondary Data
“Information that already exists somewhere, having been collected for another purpose”
Researchers usually start by gathering secondary data. The company’s internal database provides a good starting point. However, the company can also tap a wide assortment of external information sources, including commercial data services and government sources.
Secondary data can usually be obtained more quickly and at a lower cost than primary data. Also, secondary sources can sometimes provide data an individual company cannot collect on its own-information that either is not directly available or would be too expensive to collect.
Secondary data can also present problems. The needed information may not exist-researchers can rarely obtain all the data they need from secondary sources.
b) Primary Data
“Information collected for the specific purpose at hand”
Primary Data Collection
Secondary data provide a good starting point for research and often help to define research problems and objectives. In most cases, however, the company must also collect primary data. Just as researchers must carefully evaluate the quality of secondary information, they also must take great care when collecting primary data. They need to make sure that it will be relevant, accurate, current, and unbiased. Table shows that designing plan a for primary data collection calls for a number of decisions on research approaches, contact methods, sampling plan, and research instruments.