What Is Desk Research
Dissertation Writing

What Is Desk Research?

Doing research often conjures up images of surveys and interviews, but there’s another approach: desk research. It involves digging into existing information, like published reports, articles, websites, and even data from past surveys. This “treasure hunt” for readily available knowledge can be incredibly valuable.

The key difference between desk research and other methods? Cost. Desk research utilises existing data, making it much cheaper than traditional research where you gather information directly, like through surveys or experiments.

It’s like using readily available ingredients in your pantry to whip up a delicious meal, instead of having to grow all the vegetables yourself.

Desk Research: Meaning And Examples

Digging Up Insights Without Breaking the Bank

Desk research is a popular choice for businesses and organisations because it’s budget-friendly. Not everyone can afford expensive data collection methods like surveys or experiments. That’s why it’s also called documentary research. It involves using existing information readily available in various places.

Here are some treasure troves you can explore for your desk research:

  1. The internet: This vast digital library offers a wealth of information, often free or at a low cost. Websites can be a goldmine of data, but remember to choose reliable sources.


  1. Government and non-government agencies: These organisations often compile valuable and relevant data that can be helpful for your research.


  1. Public libraries: These havens of knowledge house copies of past research and a variety of documents relevant to your topic. They might also have market statistics, business directories, and newsletters.


  1. Universities: While universities conduct their own research, you might be able to request data relevant to your needs.


  1. Newspapers, magazines, and media: These sources often contain valuable insights on various topics, including the economy, politics, and market trends.


By exploring these resources, you can gather valuable information without spending a fortune. It’s like using readily available ingredients in your pantry to cook a delicious meal, instead of having to grow and harvest everything yourself.

The Usage Of Desk Research

Imagine you’re curious about dinosaurs but can’t travel back in time. Desk research lets you learn from others without leaving your seat! You can use books, websites, and even videos to discover fascinating facts about dinosaurs, their different types, and what they might have eaten. It’s like borrowing your friend’s dinosaur encyclopaedia to learn everything they know, except you don’t even need to ask.

The desk research method isn’t just for dinosaurs. You can use it to learn about almost anything, from solving a maths problem to understanding a new hobby. 


You can find out what the coolest video games are, how to bake the perfect cookies, or even interesting facts about different countries around the world. It’s like having a library full of knowledge right at your fingertips, ready to answer any question you might have.

The Advantages & Disadvantages Of Desk Research

There are different ways to find out what people want, like asking them directly or looking for clues they’ve already left behind.


Desk research is like looking for clues you use what others have already written or shared (websites, reports, etc.) to learn about your market. It’s fast, free, and helps you get a general idea of what’s going on.

Pros Of Desk Research:

  • Low cost: It’s mostly free or very affordable, like borrowing a book from the library instead of buying it.


  • Speedy: You can find information quickly since it already exists, like searching the internet for an answer.


  • Makes things clearer: It helps you understand your main question better before diving deeper with other research methods.


  • Big picture view: You can analyse large amounts of data at once, like looking at a map of the whole city.


  • Ready to use: The information is already collected and waiting for you to explore, like finding a pre-made meal instead of cooking from scratch.


  • Helpful insights: You can learn interesting things and answer some initial questions, like reading a book to learn about a new topic.

Cons Of Desk Research:

  • Outdated info: Sometimes the information might be old, like using an outdated map to find a new restaurant. Check the dates to make sure it’s recent, especially in fast-changing fields.


  • Not always perfect: You might not have complete control over the quality of the information, like trusting someone else’s recipe without trying it yourself. Be cautious and double-check the source.


  • Not unique: The same information might be available to everyone, like everyone reading the same news article.


  • Digging for answers: Analysing large amounts of data can take time, like sifting through a big box of toys to find the one you’re looking for. Be prepared to invest some time in verifying and understanding the information.

The Types Of Desk Research 

Desk research, like a good detective agency, employs a diverse team to gather crucial clues:


  • The Web Detective: Scouring the vast internet, they comb through websites, articles, and reports, their fingers flying across the keyboard. Imagine searching online for answers to unravel a mystery.


  • The Library Detective: With a keen eye and a thirst for knowledge. They delve into the treasure trove of libraries, meticulously examining books, journals, and other resources. Think of them as borrowing detective manuals from the library to learn more about their investigation.


  • The Government Detective: They build bridges with government agencies, accessing valuable information from official websites and offices. Imagine them requesting access to government files to uncover hidden clues.


  • The Company Detective: Donning their metaphorical magnifying glasses, they scrutinise company websites and reports, gathering intel on competitors and industry trends. It’s like peeking behind the curtain of other businesses to see their strategies.


  • The News Detective: With their ears to the ground and eyes glued to the screen, they analyse news articles, magazines, and broadcasts, staying constantly updated on current events. Imagine them following breaking news to see how it might impact their investigation.


Each detective brings a unique set of skills to the table, and by utilising all their expertise, you can gather a comprehensive set of clues for your desk research, piecing together the puzzle and uncovering valuable insights.

Effective Method Of Working On A Desk Research 

Desk research is like being a detective, but instead of chasing criminals, you’re chasing information. Here’s how to be a successful desk detective:


  1. Define your case: What are you trying to learn? Is it about a new hobby, a school project, or a business idea? Knowing your goal helps you focus your search.


  1. Gather your tools: Your tools are websites, libraries, government resources, and anything else that might hold the information you need. Think of them as your detective gadgets.


  1. Ask the right questions: What keywords would help you find the information you’re looking for? Imagine asking the right questions to get closer to the truth in a mystery.


  1. Follow the clues: Explore websites, read reports, and browse libraries. Each piece of information is a clue that helps you understand your topic better.


  1. Organise your findings: Take notes, bookmark websites, and keep track of where you found each piece of information. It’s like filing your clues neatly in a detective notebook.


  1. Analyse the evidence: Once you have all the clues, look at them together. What do they tell you? How do they connect to your original question? This is like putting the pieces of the puzzle together to solve the mystery.


  1. Double-check your sources: Not all information online is accurate. Make sure your sources are reliable, like trusting information from a police officer in a detective story.


  1. Draw conclusions: Based on your desk research, what can you learn about your topic? This is like figuring out who the culprit is in a mystery.

Final Thoughts

Desk research, like a thrilling treasure hunt, helps you uncover valuable information without leaving your seat. You use websites, libraries, and other resources like detective tools to find clues and answer your questions.

 It’s a great way to learn about new things, from hobbies and school projects to business ideas. While it might not be the “only” way to find information, it’s a fantastic first step to gather the basic knowledge and get closer to solving your primary research mystery.

Remember, just like some treasure hunts keep going even after finding the initial treasure, you might need to use other research methods alongside desk research to get the complete picture. But regardless, it’s a powerful tool that can open doors to a world of knowledge waiting to be explored.