Data Versus Statistics
Recently I've met some people who use the terms "data" and "statistics" interchangeably. But while they are both numeric, they mean different things to researchers and the world of academia.
Data is raw, unadulterated information; like the number of bars in a city, the number of pigs in the state, or the temperature. With Statistics, someone has "done something" to the data, manipulated it in some way. For example, the number of bars per person, population density, the average daily temperature.
Why can't I find anything more recent?
Data can be expensive and time-consuming to produce and process - often depending on its size, scope, complexity, and available funding. The more people a survey incledes, or the more observations that are recorded, the longer it will take for the data to be collected and processed, and the more expensive it is.
Data can also be embargoed. This is a ban on the publication of documents (or in this case) data, for security or copyright reasons. Scientists can wait until they have finished analyzing their data before making it available. The US Census does this as well. Reports by the Census on the changes in the population were available before the data was released to the general public.
Did you know?
Copyright law does not apply to facts, data, or ideas. But it does apply to their arrangement (as in a data base). But, just because data is not protected by copyright, it does not mean there are not other legal considerations.
The most common is privacy. Research in medicine, sociology, education, and public policy may include information about individuals that is protected either by federal privacy legislation or by commitments made by the researchers who collected it. Attempts to anonymize data before sharing it do not ensure that individual research subjects will not be identifiable, thus compromising privacy. For more information, check out Facts and Data from the University of Michigan.
Data Services Librarian
123 Hale Library
Available Software in Hale 123
- ArcGIS 10
- FME Translator
- Adobe PhotoShop
Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment
The Help Files
SPSS (Princton University)
SAS (Princeton University)
Introduction to Data Handling (University of Chicago)
Data Analysis Tutorial (Princeton University)
Fundamentals of Polling (Roper Center)
Glossary of Statistical Terms (National Science Foundation)
Finding ICPSR Data (ICPSR)
Statistics videos (the Khan Academy)
Other Data Archives for Researchers (Roper Center)