Guideline When Processing Secondary Data for Research

ESOMAR and the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) released a new guideline to support researchers applying new approaches in assembling and analysing large data bases to uncover patterns and deliver new insights.

  1. Home
  2. Codes and Guidelines
  3. Guideline When Processing Secondary Data for Research

Staying ahead of a changing world

The insight function is extending beyond primary data collection and analysis to managing, synthesising and analysing data from a diverse range of sources, often evolving the use of new analytic concepts and techniques. The result is an entirely new approach to insights wherein insights, and analytics professionals assemble and analyse large databases to uncover patterns and deliver powerful new insights.

The "ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline When Processing Secondary Data for Research" aims to assist you to stay ahead of the curve whilst keeping you on the right side of ethical and legal requirements.

What do we mean by Secondary Data?

This guidance will apply in your use-cases that rely on secondary data, meaning data that already exists. This data may come from a wide variety of sources, including:

  • Transactional databases created when data subjects interact with organisations;

  • Social media networks; syndicated data; sensors and scanners that comprise the Internet of Things;

  • Data aggregations constructed from a variety of sources;

  • and many other similar types of data.

Evolving guidance to keep up with you

Hear from Reg Baker, Debrah Harding, and Judith Passingham on the vision and how this guidance on the re-use of pre-existing data for your analytics projects connects with our broader efforts to provide you with fit-for-purpose advice. Find out how your guidelines are evolving to meet your requirements and accompany you in the challenges you face in your insights and analytics projects.

Launch of the ESOMAR/GRBN Guideline on Processing Secondary Data for Research

To learn about how to deal with the legal, ethical, and privacy requirements and client needs for transparency and quality, check out this webinar on best practices in working with secondary data for research.

Three core principles underpinning the guideline


Transparency when collecting personal data from participants.

This includes being transparent about what information is collected, why it is collected, with whom it will be shared, and in what form.


Protecting personal data collected and used from unauthorised access or sharing.

This is particularly for any information directly collected or re-used in your projects and information shared with other parties.

Duty of Care

A duty of care that prevents harm to participants or reputational damage.

This goes from ethical behaviour to protect participants to ethical behaviour towards business partners and the public.

Meet the Project Team

This guide was produced by a dedicated team of international experts in ethics and compliance, ensuring the guidance is informed by global best practices and real-world experiences. Meet your project team:

Reg Baker
Past ESOMAR Ambassador for North America at ESOMAR
Debrah Harding
Managing Director at Market Research Society
Judith Passingham
ESOMAR Committee Member, Chair of the Professional Standards Committee at ESOMAR