7.1 Introduction Secondary data analysis here refers to the process of undertaking research using already-assembled databases or archives. These may be statistical databases, such as official statistics, or survey archives or non-statistical data sets such as oral or documentary history archives. The principle is the same: the use of extant data to explore a new thesis.
This is different from undertaking a literary review (see Section 1.14.12), which provides the context for a study.
Similarly, it is important to draw a distinction between looking up available statistics and undertaking further analysis of statistical sources, which is one aspect of secondary data analysis.
Catherine Hakim (1982) defined secondary data analysis as 'any further analysis of an existing data set which presents interpretations, conclusions, or knowledge additional to, or different from, those presented in the first report on the inquiry as a whole and its main results'.
Secondary analyses thus include:
studies reporting more condensed data;
studies reporting more detailed data;
studies focusing on a specific sub-topic or social group;
studies angled towards a specific policy issue;
analyses based on an alternative conceptual framework or theory;
analyses using more sophisticated analytic techniques.
Secondary data analysis is also referred to as secondary method or as desk research.