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Research Data Literacy 101

This guide will walk you through some of the tools, resources, and best practices for working & visualizing information, including data. Guide 1 of a 3-part series.

Data 101: Defining Data

Data is a set of values that correlates to a piece of information. Data can be either qualitative or quantitative. Data is collected, measured, analyzed, manipulated, and shared to provide an understanding of something from a different perspective or in more depth than the initial observation.

Terminology according to Merriam-Webster:

  • Data - factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
  • Qualitative data - data for which the scale of measurement is a set of unordered categories called a nominal scale. For example, types of trees, types of compounds, etc.
  • Quantitative data - data expressed as a numerical measurement, in numbers, and not by means of a natural language description.
  • Statistic - a number that represents a piece of information (such as information about how often something is done, how common something is, etc.)
  • Big Data- an accumulation of data that is too large and complex for processing by traditional database management tools

Everyone Uses Data, Just in Different Ways

Flow chart of data science - collected, processed, cleaned, analysis, learning, shareUse of data is multidisciplinary, that is, people from any discipline may use  a variety of methods to explore, analyze, and communicate data in their research.

Ways data can be used:

  • to help predict future sales of a business or environmental changes in the next 10 years
  • to explore correlations between two. phenomenon you would have never placed together.
  • to make a concept understandable, to place it in context, to communicate to an audience. (For ex.: Turn textual answers from a national survey into a visualization that shows how it impacts my life.) 
  • to discover trends that may have been unnoticeable by previous methods.    
  • to learn about your community and demographics.             

Figure 2.2: (2014)