Explain what is meant by the term "data."

October 14, 2019


Data are individual units of information. A datum describes a single quality or quantity of some object or phenomenon. In analytical processes, data are represented by variables. Data, information, knowledge and wisdom are closely related concepts, but each has its own role in relation to the other, and each term has its own meaning. According to a common view, data is collected and analyzed; data only becomes information suitable for making decisions once it has been analyzed in some fashion. One can say that the extent to which a set of data is informative to someone depends on the extent to which it is unexpected by that person.
What is research data
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. 

A Data Management Plan should describe how data is managed during as well as after the active phase of the research project. The plan should be updated as the research project evolves.

The Data Management Plan  is part of a research plan. To avoid overlap between the DMP and the research plan, you can refer from one document to the other. Introduce data analysis and other methods in your research plan.

In the Data Management Plan data is understood as a broad term including:
data collected by various methods (such as surveys, interviews, measurements, imaging techniques etc.), data produced during the research (such as analysis results), research sources (such as archive material), and source code and software.


Knowledge is the understanding based on extensive experience dealing with information on a subject. For example, the height of Mount Everest is generally considered data. The height can be measured precisely with an altimeter and entered into a database. This data may be included in a book along with other data on Mount Everest to describe the mountain in a manner useful for those who wish to make a decision about the best method to climb it. An understanding based on experience climbing mountains that could advise persons on the way to reach Mount Everest's peak may be seen as "knowledge". The practical climbing of Mount Everest's peak based on this knowledge made be seen as "wisdom". In other words, wisdom refers to the practical application of a person's knowledge in those circumstances where good may result. Thus wisdom complements and completes the series "data", "information" and "knowledge" of increasingly abstract concepts.

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