For most students, even those at the post-graduate level and those experienced in writing a dissertation, the most dreadful part of writing a thesis, project, or dissertation of any kind is primary research.

However, this article aims to explain the process in simple steps:

  • Choose the type of data
  • Decide on research methodology
  • Select a specific primary research method
  • Select participants

Step 1: Choose the type of data

The first step in your primary research is deciding what type of data your research will use. You have the option of choosing between primary data, secondary data, and big data. Please note that this article’s focus is on primary research.

Primary data referred to as ‘real-time’ data are the data that has been collected by the researcher. You will majorly rely on this data when doing primary research for your undergraduate or graduate degrees.

Step 2: Choose your primary research methodology

There are different methods of conducting your primary research. When doing primary research, you have the option of relying on qualitative or quantitative methodology or a mixture of both.

Qualitative Methodology

The qualitative research method is exploratory and is often conducted when there is no available quantitative research on the topic or looking to explore the case for the first time.

Quantitative Methodology

On the other hand, quantitative research is confirmatory. The goal of this methodology is to confirm or disconfirm hypotheses based on statistics and analysis available. In quantitative research, you are more concerned with numerical and statistical data, reflecting measurable and fixed reality.

Mixed research

The mixed methodology is a combination of the two types of research methodologies. The goal is to gain a more in-depth and thorough understanding of a particular topic better than you would if you rely on a single method. In mixed research, you must first do qualitative research and then supplement it with quantitative research.

Step 3: An observation

This involves observing a group of people within their setting. Your role as a researcher is to immerse yourself in this setting and take up either a participant’s role or that of a bystander. The goal is to have a close look at how your participants will behave in specific situations.

Step 4: Interviews

This involves creating questions geared towards getting your participants’ opinions, attitudes, and feelings so you can better understand the phenomenon. To avoid loss of data during transfer, you must record your interview sessions and transcribe afterward. You want to make sure everything is well-documented and recorded for reference purposes.


This guide summarizes the basic steps of conducting primary research for your undergraduate or graduate project. However, these steps are basic at best; you may want a more comprehensive guide on research and writing a dissertation, but all you need to get started are listed above.

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