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Data & Statistics

What are Data


What are data?

Data are plain facts, usually raw numbers.  Think of a spreadsheet full of numbers with no meaningful description.  In order for these numbers to become information, they must be interpreted to have meaning.

Who creates data?

Data can come from a government census or organization surveys or research studies. 

Why the ARE in "data are?"

  • Datum (singular form) - a piece of information
  • Data (plural form) - multiple pieces of information

Recognizing Data II

How will I know it is data?

A data file might look like this:

What forms does it take?

Data might be audio files, video, geospatial or digital content.

Data Conceptionalization

Can we conceptualize data?  Yes!


Courtesy: Domo



Statistics are your place for quick numbers.  They might answer the questions "how much" or "how many." 
Statistics result from data that have been interpreted then synthesized into a usable form.

Statistics can be in the form of numbers or percentages and they are frequently presented in a table or graph.

A statistical table might look like this one from the Statistical Abstract of the United States:

Evaluating Data and Statistics

Some Questions to Think About When Locating Data or Statistics

Time Period
Are you looking for the current year? Remember that it takes some time to compile data. A range of years? Do you need historical data?

What country, state, county, etc., might compile the data you want?


Government agencies, academic and clinical researchers, data scientists, commercial organizations like banks and businesses, non-profits organizations, research collections like ICPSR, databases


What data is likely to be available?


Where is the data likely to be located?