OSU Navigation Bar

The Ohio State University

OSU Libraries

net.TUTOR: Data Basics

 Previous | Tutorial Home | Next

2. Data Basics: What is data?


Data are basically bits of information about something. Check out several definitions of data at Dictionary.com and the brief overview What is Data?

Data elements are often broken up into two types:

It is very common to see these items mixed together when displayed.

 

Activity


Check out these examples of quantitative vs. qualitative data.

Now, think about yourself. What quantitative and qualitative data elements might you use to describe yourself?

 

Our Answer:


pie chart numbers video wall




Think about the data about a particular class’s students. The data could be organized in a spreadsheet or table that looks something like this:

Last Name

First Name

Age

Rank

Major

Gender

Current GPA

Picture

Adams

Grace

19

Sophomore

English

Female

3.78

student

Bloomfield

Erika

21

Junior

Physics

Female

3.89

student

Chow

Kimmie

20

Senior

Political Science

Female

3.77

student

Crutchfield

Seth

23

Senior

Psychology

Male

3.58

student

Fitch

Fredrick

18

Freshman

Art

Male

4.0

student

Grover

Oscar

26

Junior

Biology

Male

3.32

student

When many people think of data, their minds might automatically focus on a table or spreadsheet of numbers and words.  Data can be conveyed in more ways than textually or numerically.  The above illustrates data can include other formats, such as a picture.  We could display numerical data in a graphic format – listing the students’ ages or GPA on a bar chart, for example, rather than a list of numbers.  All the above data could be relayed instead as a video of each student giving these details about themselves.  


Increasingly, other formats (such as images, sound, and video) may be is used as data  or used to convey data.  Some examples: