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Secondary data and online sources

Chapter 14 & Page 100

Looking for business information in online sources




You will need to find out whether your institution can give you a user name and password to gain access to databases such as:

  • ABI/INFORM Global ( provides business information from a wide range of international periodicals and reports, can be searched by keyword or by using BROWSE LISTS or TOPIC FINDER to search for relevant articles by subject
  • Business Source Premier ( provides comprehensive full text access to certain key business and management journals including Harvard Business Review and Academy of Management Review, as well as indexing and abstracts for over 3,000 business journals
  • Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI at which fully indexes over 1,700 major social science journals covering all social science disciplines dating back to 1981 (SSCI does not provide full text access to journals but does provide references, abstracts book reviews and editorial material) see Introductory Guidelines for Searching SSCI
  • COPAC contains the holdings of twenty-two of the largest university research libraries plus the British Library at
  • Euromonitor International ( contains marketing profiles, consumer market sizing for fifty-two countries, consumer lifestyle reports, data for over 200 countries, market forecasts, and information about 100,000 brands and 12,000 companies
  • Mintel provides comprehensive market research reports on the UK retail and leisure sectors and conducts its own market research
  • Reuters Business Insight provides access to hundreds of market research reports focused on: energy, consumer goods, finance, health care, and technology

To see video clips of students talking about their experiences of using secondary data, click here

Exercise: secondary analysis and official statistics

  • Go onto the official Government Statistics website, Office For National Statistics:
    • Type in ‘Household consumption expenditure’
    • Look at: Expenditure at current prices: goods and services 2002-2017 (or something similar that is of interest to you)



What precautions should be taken before using this data?

The data should be checked for the following:

Familiarity - What do the variables mean? How were they coded?

Complexity - How is the data made up? Was the data compiled from other secondary sources? Was it 'individual' data or 'organization' data?

Data quality - Who collected the data? Was it a reliable source? How was it collected? How recent is it?

Absence of key variables - Are all the significant variables present? Can relationships be examined in the data?

Reliability and validity - Is the data valid and reliable?

Check your answer



Analyse the data, plotting trends, and conducting any other relevant statistics. What conclusions can be drawn from the data?

The data can be anlaysed using mainly descriptive statistics. Inferential statistics may be difficult to compute because of all the potential problems outlined in answer 1.

The following graphs and analysis can be performed. These may be done by hand, or by use of a statistical package like SPSS and EXCEL:

Graph plots from 2002 - 2017 on the individual data

Olaf curves of the same plots

Measures of location or central tendency, e.g. mean, median, and mode

Measures of spread or variance, e.g. standard deviation, range, maximum and minimum values, quartiles

Providing the potential problems in Answer 1 can be satisfied, inferential statistics like, correlation, regression, univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses.

Check your answer