Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)

Yaroslav Zhmikhov
Yaroslav Zhmikhov
1923 September, 29, 2021 3 min read
1923 September, 29, 2021 3 min read

Stage 1: Business Research

Examples: Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)


A perfect way to gather important info about a client’s industry and find existing research that will help you prepare well for a kick-off meeting.

Desk research consists of 3 main components:

  • Preparatory research (prep research) is your preparation before the start of the research.
  • Secondary research is the search for existing research and reports.
  • Primary research (not considered) is a study in which you conduct yourself using the necessary research methods.

Desk research helps to answer such questions as what, why, and how. In other words, it is not the search for answers, but it is the search for the right questions to ask in your research. Also, this kind of research is also called “Documentary research”.

Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)

The purpose of the preparatory research

To learn more about the industry (finance information, how companies receive money, what business model they use, what processes are inside the company, and how the customer’s company works), organizations, competitors, their customers and users, similar products or services, or about a similar experience.

The purpose of the secondary research

To collect quantitative and qualitative data that has been collected for other projects or other purposes. That is, to find existing research or reports.

Value for the team

It allows you to quickly immerse yourself in a new business area, for example, it may give an understanding of how finance or insurance works. Besides, it helps to learn the basic definitions and terminology as well as shows which solutions are sustainable practices and work fairly stable in many companies. Moreover, the information that the designer will receive at this stage will help build trust among business and future respondents, since the designer will be able to speak to them in the same language and ask questions of much greater detail and depth.

Value for business

The method is quite economical for the project budget, gives access to an abundance of structured data that has already been collected, as well as it minimizes the time spent on explaining the basics.


  • Preparation: up to 30 minutes
  • Main activity: from 8 to 12 hours

Creating process:

Step 1. Identify Wide research questions or topics, for example:

  • What are the possible reasons for starting to study?
  • How does the user’s learning process take place: independently, in a group, or individually with a tutor?
  • How do users memorize the information received during the lesson?

Step 2. Each research topic requires questions, for example:

  • Why is it so important for users to learn a foreign language?
  • What is the learning process of a user who does not have a tutor?
  • What are effective teaching methods on the market?

Step 3. Collect links and additional information

Save the link to the source, indicate the date of publication, and assess whether this source can be trusted (a scientific publication or research of a large company is a more reliable source of knowledge than a blog article).

Step 4. Formulate assumptions or hypotheses

For example, self-study of language does not give a significant result due to a lack of knowledge in teaching methods.

A piece of advice: You can use these sources to search for information: Google Scholar, Statista, Gartner, McKinsey & Company, Harvard Business Review, TrendWatching, etc.

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