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Definition of Data

(noun) A collection of recorded observations gained from research from which inferences are drawn through analysis.

Types of Data

Data Pronunciation

Pronunciation Usage Guide

Syllabification: da·ta

Audio Pronunciation

– American English
– British English

Phonetic Spelling

  • American English – /dAY-tuh/
  • British English – /dAY-tuh/

International Phonetic Alphabet

  • American English – /ˈdædə/
  • British English – /ˈdeɪtə/

Usage Notes

  • Data is the plural form of datum (or data point), a single fact or observation.
  • Data is typically numeric (quantitative) or textual (qualitative).
  • Quantitative data is typically discrete or continuous. Discrete data (also called quantitative discrete data) is the result of counting, such the amount of words on a page or beans in a jar. Continuous data (also called quantitative continuous data) is the result of measuring, such as standing on a scale to determine your weight or using as thermometer to find out the temperature.
  • Data is stored in a data archive, often in the form of a data file as part of a data set, and it comes from a data source.
  • Data is collected on two levels: individual and aggregate. An example of data collected at the individual level is a single individual’s income. In contrast, an example of data collected at the aggregate level is the average age of all members of a household.

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Additional Information

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Works Consulted

Andersen, Margaret L., and Howard Francis Taylor. 2011. Sociology: The Essentials. 6th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Babbie, Earl. 2013. The Practice of Social Research. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social Research Methods. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burdess, Neil. 2010. Starting Statistics: A Short, Clear Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Cramer, Duncan, and Dennis Howitt. 2004. The SAGE Dictionary of Statistics: A Practical Resource for Students in the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Fioramonti, Lorenzo. 2014. How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.

Kimmel, Michael S., and Amy Aronson. 2012. Sociology Now. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Larson, Ron, and Elizabeth Farber. 2015. Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Salkind, Neil J., ed. 2007. Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Stewart, Paul, and Johan Zaaiman, eds. 2015. Sociology: A Concise South African Introduction. Cape Town: Juta.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).

Weinstein, Jay A. 2010. Applying Social Statistics: An Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in Sociology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).

Cite the Definition of Data

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “data.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved May 28, 2024 (https://sociologydictionary.org/data/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

data. (2013). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/data/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2013. “data.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed May 28, 2024. https://sociologydictionary.org/data/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“data.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2013. Web. 28 May. 2024. <https://sociologydictionary.org/data/>.