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Data is usually described as Primary or Secondary.

Primary data is data collected by the user for the specific purposes of the project. This could be data from a survey you have generated and sent to the public, or it could be data collected from scientific experiments, or something similar. The data collection is tailored specifically to your needs, and therefore is the most valid for answering your research question. A downside is that this type of data is often expensive and time consuming to collect.

Secondary data refers to data that has been collected by someone other than the user, for a different project. This could mean data from a survey that was conducted by another person or company, or data collected from a published scientific paper etc. This data is cheaper and less time consuming to obtain. However, given this was not collected by the user for the specific purpose of their project, the user needs to take into consideration how the original collection procedure and purposes impacts on the quality and validity of the data in the new context.

Tertiary data is also a term in use, and refers to a collection of primary and secondary data that has been interpreted. It can often be difficult to know the origin of this data, and therefore assess the quality and validity of the data. This data generally should not be used for academic research, as it is difficult to understand the quality and validity of the data in context of the project.

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