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Statistics - Collection of Data

Statistics >>Primary and secondary data

Data which are collected for the first time by the investigator himself for a specific purpose are known as primary data. Such data are collected by means of a census or survey. Secondary data are those which have been previously collected by some agency for their own purpose but are now used in a different connection.

Some examples of primary data are Reserve Bank of India Bulletin (Monthly), annual report of railway board etc. The examples of secondary data are Monthly Abstract of Statistics, International Labour Bulletin (monthly) etc.

Distinction between primary and secondary data

The difference between primary data and secondary data is largely a matter of degree. Data which are primary in the hands of one may be secondary for others. The differences between the two are as follows:

(i)     Primary data are those data which are collected for the first time and thus original in character whereas, secondary data are obtained from some one else's records.

(ii)    Primary data are in the shape of raw data to which statistical methods are applied but the secondary data are like finished products since they have been processed statistically.

(iii)    After statistical treatment the primary data lose their original shape and becomes secondary data. Primary data once published become secondary data.  

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