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* Research Basics *

College-level research can be difficult, even for students who have previously done research. This guide is a great starting point for learning about how to successfully conduct literature-based research, such as secondary research or a literature review.

What is Secondary Research?

Secondary research, also known as a literature review, preliminary research, historical research, background research, desk research, or library research, is research that analyzes or describes prior research. Rather than generating and analyzing new data, secondary research analyzes existing research results to establish the boundaries of knowledge on a topic, to identify trends or new practices, to test mathematical models or train machine learning systems, or to verify facts and figures. Secondary research is also used to justify the need for primary research as well as to justify and support other activities. For example, secondary research may be used to support a proposal to modernize a manufacturing plant, to justify the use of newly a developed treatment for cancer, to strengthen a business proposal, or to validate points made in a speech.

Learn More

The following guides, published by the library, offer more information on how to do secondary research or a literature review: