Data are distinctive pieces of information, usually formatted in a special way. Strictly speaking, data is the plural of datum, a single piece of information. In practice, however, people use data as both the singular and plural form of the word. In database management systems, data files are the files that store the database information.
Research data is data that is collected, observed, or created, for purposes of analysis to produce original research results. The word “data” is used throughout this site to refer to research data.
- Observational: data captured in real-time, usually irreplaceable. For example, sensor data, survey data, sample data, neurological images.
- Experimental: data from lab equipment, often reproducible, but can be expensive. For example, gene sequences, chromatograms, toroid magnetic field data.
- Simulation: data generated from test models where model and metadata are more important than output data. For example, climate models, economic models.
- Derived or compiled: data is reproducible but expensive. For example, text and data mining, compiled database, 3D models.
- Reference or canonical: a (static or organic) conglomeration or collection of smaller (peer-reviewed) datasets, most probably published and curated. For example, gene sequence databanks, chemical structures, or spatial data portals.
Research data may include all of the following:
- Text or Word documents, spreadsheets
- Laboratory notebooks, field notebooks, diaries
- Questionnaires, transcripts, codebooks
- Audiotapes, videotapes
- Photographs, films
- Test responses
- Slides, artifacts, specimens, samples
- Collection of digital objects acquired and generated during the process of research
- Data files
- Database contents including video, audio, text, images
- Models, algorithms, scripts
Data collection is the systematic approach to gathering and measuring information from a variety of sources to get a complete and accurate picture of an area of interest. Data collection enables a person or organization to answer relevant questions, evaluate outcomes and make predictions about future probabilities and trends.
Data collection is the process of gathering and measuring information on targeted variables in an established systematic fashion, which then enables one to answer relevant questions and evaluate outcomes. Data collection is a component of research in all fields of study including physical and social sciences, humanities, and business. While methods vary by discipline, the emphasis on ensuring accurate and honest collection remains the same. The goal for all data collection is to capture quality evidence that allows analysis to lead to the formulation of convincing and credible answers to the questions that have been posed
Accurate data collection is essential to maintaining the integrity of research, making informed business decisions and ensuring quality assurance. For example, in retail sales, data might be collected from mobile applications, website visits, loyalty programs and online surveys to learn more about customers.