Data Sources

Data Sources

When evaluating a program, there are alternative ways to get the information you need in addition to collecting the data yourself. Data that you retrieve first-hand is known as primary data. Alternatively, data that is retrieved from pre-existing sources is known as secondary data.

Primary data sources include information collected and processed directly by the researcher, such as observations, surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Secondary data sources include information that you retrieve through pre-existing sources such as research articles, Internet or library searches. Pre-existing data may also include examining existing records and data within the program such as publications and training materials, financial records, student/client data, and performance reviews of staff, etc.


Primary Data Sources

Secondary Data Sources
  • Data that are not pre-existing and are collected by the evaluator using methods such as observations, surveys or interviews
  • Information that has already been collected, processed and reported out by another researcher/entity
  • Provides information if existing data on your topic/project is not current or directly applicable to your evaluation questions
  • Offers an opportunity to review any and all secondary data available for your project before collecting primary data
  • Can be more expensive and time-consuming, but it enables you to collect data that is specific to the purpose of your evaluation
  • Will tell you what questions still need to be addressed and what data you should collect yourself


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