Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of secondary sources.
There are two forms of data collection, these are primary and secondary. Primary data is gathered by the sociologist first hand, secondary data is not collected especially for the sociologist. In this essay we shall look at the good points and the bad points of secondary sources.
There are many ways of getting secondary sources; these have been investigated, and I will now critically look at these considering their advantages and disadvantages. The first one to be considered will be official statistics; these are collected on behalf of the state. The advantages of these are that the data is already collected for you, they are easy to analyse, usually come from a credible source and they are quick and cheap. Nevertheless they do have their disadvantages as well, these consist of the fact that they are sometimes hard to get hold of, the required information may not be available, there may be a bias of the original collector and it may be out of date before publication.
There are also official records, and these should be reliable, but only if we can trust the writer. There are records that are beyond reproach; for example court records, the only way these could be incorrect is if the shorthand writer were to make a mistake. Of course the disadvantages of these are that no matter how accurate the record may be, it is only one side of the story, plus we are not always aware of what the circumstances were when the report was written, for instance a signed confession obtained by the police and given as evidence in a court of law, may well have been a true account of what happened, but what it does not say is what pressure the...