Unit 1 : Data- Definition, Types, Nature, Properties And Scope

 Thirunavukkarasu TC  May 10, 2017
1) Write a paragraph explaining the meaning of data.
Literally, the word ‘data’ means anything that is given. Data are facts or information used in discussing or deciding something. The term connotes diverse things. In sum the term includes facts, figures, letters, symbols, words, charts, and graphs that represent an idea, object or condition. Data are measured quantities or derived qualitative values. Data forms the basis for drawing conclusions, taking policy decisions and formulating and implementing plans. As a rule, data have the attributes of clarity, accuracy and usability. They present the essence of the matter.

2) Write a note on the parameters used in categorising data in Sciences.
For categorising data in sciences, certain parameters are used. There are six parameters using which six basic types of data are derived. Within each of these types there are two or three classes. The parameters for categorisation used in sciences are: 1) time factor, 2) location factor, 3) mode of generation, 4) quantitative values, 5) terms of expressions, and 6) modes of presentation. It is easy to understand the nature of data after first categorising them on the basis of these parameters. In all, one finds fifteen classes of data in sciences as a result of applying these parameters.

3) How are data categorised in social sciences?
As sciences, data are categorised in social sciences in several ways. On the basis of characteristics of observation, data in social sciences are categorised into two types, viz., quantitative and qualitative. Another categorisation of data is according to the origin of data, which yields two types: primary and secondary. Cross-section data and time series data are yet another categorisation in social sciences. Here, the parameter used is time factor. Using scales of measurement we get either continuous data
or discrete data. Besides, there are four scales or levels used for deriving nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio data. Lastly, dependent upon the number of characteristics observed, we get univariate, bivariate, or multivariate data. This is how data are categorised in Social Sciences.

4) Write a note on data as a crystallised presentation
According to the CODATA definition, data are a ‘crystallised presentation of the essence of knowledge in the most accurate form’. In the opinion of CODATA, clarity is an essential attribute of data. We learn from the UNESCO definition that data are concepts in a formalised manner suitable for communication and interpretation. Unless data display clarity, neither communication nor interpretation is possible. If there is no clarity, the meaning desired to be communicated will remain hidden and the purpose of presenting data will be defeated. Many presentation techniques exist for lending clarity to data.

5) ‘Data pervade all human endeavour’. Elaborate
Data are required in all scientific, socio-economic and management operations. With the increased applied research for socio-economic and technological development, the importance of data has increased now all the more. All socio-economic programme, scientific investigations, planning activities and operational work require large measures of data of various types. Every decision problem calls for data. The first step in any research design is data collection. Neither enquiry can be conducted, nor problem solved without reference to available facts on the variables involved. Data are the basis upon which the hypotheses are formulated and tested and theories are built. The importance of data in library services is truly immense.


Observation : A recording of a single datum.
Phenomenon : Fact or occurrence (Phenomena is the plural form).
Population : An aggregate of individual units, whether composed of people or things, having the characteristic under study.

Source: IGNOU Study Material

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