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Data Resources

Data Resources

Being able to find data, analyze it, and then interpret the results is an extremely valuable skill. This guide will help you to: 

  • find datasets that meet your information need
  • understand the different types of files that often accompany data files, such as setup files, readme files, codebooks, and data dictionaries 
  • build skills in analyzing data through the use of statistical software such as SPSS and SAS
  • properly cite data from external sources 

What Is Data?

Data is any collection of values that conveys information about the world. There are many different definitions that have been used for data, but here are a couple to start with:

  • "information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making, or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer" (Cambridge Dictionary
  • " factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation" (Merriam-Webster)

Big Data

"Big data" refers to very large datasets that can be collected and analyzed thanks to modern computing advances. In the early 2000's analyst Doug Laney described big data in terms of three V's: Volume, Velocity and Variety.  The three V's are now a mainstream way of thinking about big data. (SAS Big Data Webpage)