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Primary and Secondary Data

This geography quiz takes a look at primary and secondary data. Controlled assessment for your GCSE requires that you use fieldwork to investigate one question or hypothesis at a local scale. Primary data collection must take place within the investigation and it is acceptable to gather secondary data too. When producing your report of your fieldwork, you need to demonstrate that you know the difference between primary and secondary data and understand how to present it in an appropriate format.

Primary data is data that is collected first hand, that is to say, data that is collected by some sort of fieldwork in order to investigate a hypothesis or to answer a specific geographical question. An example of this could be to interview people to find out how they feel about a greenfield development.

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The strength of such data is that it is collected in a way that is exactly tailored to answering the question or supporting/contradicting the hypothesis. To collect reliable and useful primary data takes a lot of very careful planning and preparation.

Secondary data is collected by someone other than the researcher, usually for a different purpose and it is always collected before the project. It is not therefore tailored to answering a specific question or supporting or contradicting a hypothesis. An example of this would be the study of aerial photographs to examine glacial features in the Lake District. It is unlikely that the person who took the aerial photos took them to enable the study of glacial features, but that doesn't mean they won't supply the researcher with the information they are looking for. The benefits of using secondary data is that it is usually less expensive in terms of time, money and effort than obtaining the information as primary data.

Raw data needs to be processed and analysed. It can be presented in many different ways and the method you choose depends on the purpose of the research. Numerical data can be presented as graphs or charts such as pie charts and other data could be presented in the form of maps, diagrams, photographs or a combination of methods.

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  1. A population census is taken once every 10 years. Which form of data presentation would be most appropriate?
    Since the data is continuous but sampled only once every 10 years, the bar chart would be the most appropriate method
  2. Secondary data...
    If the sources of secondary data are not referenced, it could be regarded as plagiarism
  3. Which of the following is an example of qualitative primary data?
    Qualitative results do not involve measurement. Primary data is collected by the researcher
  4. Primary data is...
    Obtaining primary data needs careful planning
  5. Which of the following is an advantage of primary data?
    There are no guarantees that primary data is any more accurate than secondary data and it always needs to be carefully planned in order to ensure it will be relevant to the project
  6. Which of the following is an example of quantitative secondary data?
    Quantitative data must include measurements and secondary data is data that already exists
  7. Which of the following charts would be appropriate to investigate the price of ice creams in London the further you are away from big Ben?
    A scatter graph is an appropriate way of looking for patterns in a set of quantitative primary or secondary data
  8. Which of the following forms of data presentation do not have an x-axis and a y-axis?
    Pie charts are very good ways of representing percentages
  9. On a scatter graph, if the line of best fit slopes down to the right and all the points are close to the line, it indicates...
    If it is difficult to decide on a line of best fit then the correlation between the two variables you have studied is weak or there is no correlation
  10. A student uses books and the Internet to investigate the distribution of pastoral, arable and mixed types of farming in lowland and upland areas of the UK. Their raw results are processed to work out the percentage of different farming types in each of the two areas. Which of the following would be an appropriate way to present their data?
    Whenever you are dealing with percentages, using one or more pie charts is an excellent way of presenting the data. The raw data could be presented on a map using a key to show the location of each farm for which data was obtained

Author: Kev Woodward

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