Secondary Data Analysis


Secondary data analysis is the use of data that was collected by individuals other than the investigator. This includes newspapers, census data, maps, etc. Secondary data analysis is often a starting point for other social science research methods.


Oftentimes, information and data managers need in order to make an informed decision have already been collected. A manager may want to find out particular aspects of the changing human environment in order to identify and manage areas of concern. Secondary data analysis including census reports, government reports, scientific papers, aerial maps, business and industry reports, on-line Web sites, and other secondary data can assist in developing conclusions that will help in decision making.


  • Captures comprehensive and historical information

  • Uses existing information

  • Web-based materials and search engines are readily available


  • Information may be incomplete, obsolete, inconclusive, or inaccurate

  • Data limited to what already exists

Expertise Needed

This technique can usually be conducted with in-house expertise. Some assistance may be needed in locating data sources and analyzing complex data sets.

Related Partners

NOAA is a federal agency focused on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere. It plays several distinct roles within the Department of Commerce.

Resources: Websites