The term data refers to qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables. Data (plural of "datum") are typically the results of measurements and can be the basis of graphs, images, or observations of a set of variables. Data are often viewed as the lowest level of abstraction from which information and then knowledge are derived. Raw data, i.e. unprocessed data, refers to a collection of numbers, characters, images or other outputs from devices that collect information to convert physical quantities into symbols. Statistics is the study of the collection, organization, and interpretation of data. It deals with all aspects of this, including the planning of data collection in terms of the design of surveys and experiments.
Practical First Steps
1. Define Topic and Unit of Analysis
2. Create a specific statement of exactly the kind of data you need.
3. Identify Data Sources Locate Government Agencies, Organizations and Honnold Library or Claremont Colleges commercial subscriptions.
4. Review Literature Search the major bibliographic databases in your field.
5. Restricted Data: Some data supplied by data archives such as ICPSR contain restricted data. This data requires special security to insure protection of confidential material.
If you identify restricted data that you wish to request; you can't find what you need; or to o recommend data for purchase please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for help.
A dataset (also spelled ‘data set’) is a collection of raw statistics and information generated by a research study. Datasets produced by government agencies or non-profit organizations can usually be downloaded free of charge. However, datasets developed by for-profit companies may be available for a fee.
Most datasets can be located by identifying the agency or organization that focuses on a specific research area of interest. For example, if you are interested in learning about public opinion on social issues, Pew Research Center would be a good place to look. For data about population, the U.S. government’s Population Estimates Program from American Factfinder would be a good source.
An “open data” philosophy is becoming more common among governments and business organizations around the world, with the belief that data should be freely accessible. Open data efforts have been led by both the government and non-government organizations such as the Open Knowledge Foundation. Learn more by exploring The Open Data Handbook. There is also a growing trend in what is being called “Big Data”, where extremely large amounts of data are analyzed for new and interesting perspectives, and data visualization, which is helping to drive the availability and accessibility of datasets and statistics.