Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 29 April, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

7. Secondary data

7.1 Introduction to secondary analysis
7.2 Extent of re-analysis of secondary data

7.3 Nature of the data

7.4 Data sources

7.4.1 Statistical sources
7.4.2 Data and historical archives
7.4.3 Big data

7.5 Examining data sources
7.6 Methodological approaches

7.7 Summary and conclusion

7.4.2 Data and historical archives
Data and historical archives are extrenmely varied and often require some effort to unearth. They range from newspaper archives, through local history archives, depositories of survey data (including completed questionnaires), in-depth interview transcripts or recordings, to collections of personal letters and diaries.

In Britain, for example, probably the largest and most accessible data archive is the UK Data Archive. This was originally the SSRC Data Bank and subsequently the Economic and Social Science Research Data Archive (ESRCDA) prior to its current name.

The archive was established in the late 1960s and more and more data sets, deriving from academic research, and independent research as well as government surveys, are available from the archive. These have included the key surveys carried out by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys: the Labour Force Survey, the General Household Survey and the Family Expenditure Survey.

These government surveys are designed for secondary analysis (see, for example, Payne, 1987) and are widely reanalysed by government departments, academics, local government, quangos, trade unions, pressure groups, market researchers and so on. (See also Office of National Statistics website)


Next 7.4.3 Big data