magnifying glass.jpg The Improve Group has used secondary analysis in conducting quantitative analysis. Like focus groups and interviews, secondary analysis contributes to a comprehensive, in-depth understanding about the issues facing an organization and their participants. So, the Improve Group calls you to participate in secondary analysis– what exactly are you getting yourself into? What is secondary analysis? Many of us have read articles about results of studies using secondary analysis. Secondary analysis uses existing data that may have been collected for previous purposes in order to examine an issue different than originally intended. The data could have been collected for determining eligibility or enrolling participants, managing a program, or for a previous study. This data can range from responses to interview questions and focus groups to individual test scores. What secondary analysis isn’t. Secondary analysis is not the re-evaluation of the original study. However, it can use that original study to explore new areas. The process should be straightforward and transparent, especially when dealing with sensitive information. When researchers ask for secondary data from an original data collector, they should be able to provide a detailed answer to the following questions: •What is the purpose of the research? •How will this data be used? •How will the results of the research be shared? •How will confidentiality be preserved? In addition to answering questions, the researchers should learn as much as they can about the data, including any issues in validity or consistency of the data. Studies using secondary analysis should be well-grounded in the theories of social science. Otherwise, the validity of the results of the secondary analysis can be seriously questioned. What is the value of secondary analysis for the participant? Secondary analysis provides an inexpensive and convenient option in analyzing multiple sets of data that can build on the work of other researchers. Such analysis contributes greatly to answering important societal questions that affect the participant. Don’t be afraid to take existing data as a starting point to evaluate an important current issue. If you are interested in the results of a study or how a study can be used, feel free to ask questions and provide comments about the study to the researcher. Additionally, you can request a copy of the results of the secondary analysis. Therefore, if a researcher asks you to participate in secondary analysis, you should strongly consider it!