- September 21, 2017
- Posted by: Matthew Miller
- Category: Data
Everything in our surroundings may be considered as data; it is only a matter of who is looking at it. Hence, plants in our garden may be data for the biologist, our opinions to certain questions may be data for psychologists, and signs and symptoms of an illness are data for doctors.
But what exactly is data? Who collects it? How is it collected and how is it used? These are some of the questions we will answer briefly and concisely so as to give you an overview of what are data.
What are data?
Generally, data refers to a collection of observations, facts, or measurements that are used to make inferences and conclusions about certain things. Data does not come in one universal form. In fact, there is a wide variety when it comes to forms of data. A collection of sea water is data in the marine biology world whereas in the field of psychology, answered questionnaires serve as data. As for businesses in the car industry, feedback about car models may also serve as data.
Who collects data?
An undergraduate student who is due to submit a thesis as a requirement for graduation may collect data according to the discipline he is in. Post-graduate students, as well, collect data necessary for their advancement. In these situations, they are deemed as researchers.
Companies in different industries may also hire their very own researchers to collect data necessary to make company strategies and decisions. In general, data collectors are researchers and researchers may be students, faculty, and other professionals.
How is data collected?
The methodology of data collection or acquisition largely depends on the type of data that needs to be gathered. Data acquisition in research that needs real-time data may make use of data loggers. As mentioned awhile ago, data may also be collected by formulating a questionnaire or a set of interview questions and observations are collected by recording.
However, mentioned above are some of the many ways data can be collected. The use of various instruments and equipment may be necessary to collect data.
How is data analyzed?
Data may be descriptive, qualitative, or quantitative. These types of data are analyzed in different ways as well.
When it comes to qualitative data, these may be analyzed by thematic or content analysis. On the other hand, descriptive and quantitative data may have to deal with statistics as there are numbers involved.
How is data used?
The main purpose of collecting data is gaining more knowledge about the certain areas being studied.
For instance, if a company is collecting data that pertains to customer satisfaction, the collected data will be used to fill the gaps between the company and the customers so as to improve the customer service of the company.
On another note, if we deal with natural or hard sciences, collection of data is used to advance medical treatments, formulate the differences between organisms, know more about bodily processes, etc.
The Bottom Line
Even social media platforms or the internet, as a whole, collect data from us. From the websites we visit which are lodged in our history to the answers we give random online surveys; we are providing them with data. From this, we can conclude that it is not just money but also data that makes the world go around.