• What is a survey?
  • Who usually does them?
  • What can they be used for?

As we learned in Unit 2, the second step of the Writing Process is generating ideas. For many simple writing tasks, we can do this by brainstorming. But for more complex or persuasive writing, we will need to research in order to collect evidence and examples to support our ideas.

There are two main types of research, primary and secondary.

Primary Research

Primary research is information taken directly from the world. It could be a survey, experiment, observation, or interview. This is raw data that is generated by you. For example, if you were studying marketing, and you wanted to know if your product would be popular with young people, you might build and conduct an online survey of asking them how they feel about it.

For students, there are some disadvantages to primary research. For one, it’s time-consuming and expensive, so it is usually done by large organizations like companies or governments. Also, since the data is raw or unanalyzed, it may be difficult to use effectively in your writing.

Secondary Research

Secondary research is much more commonly used by students. This is research that has already been gathered and interpreted by others. Basically, they take primary research and organize and present it in a simple way. Secondary research usually takes the form of reports, summaries, or articles and can be found online, in libraries, or in publications. For most students, this kind of research is a lot easier to use because it’s faster to find and easier to connect to your ideas.

Students must be careful with secondary research because whoever has presented it may have biases or may present the information in an incomplete or slanted way. That’s why it’s always important to check the sources of your sources.