Defining data


Unorganized and unprocessed facts, raw numbers, figures, images, words, sounds, derived from observations or measurements.

Usually data is static in nature, a set of discrete, objective facts about events.

Bonaventura (1997, p.83) notes that data are not knowledge. Data are the raw material for knowledge creation. There is no inherent meaning in data. Data is raw material for information.

By adding value, data is transformed in to information, which has meaning, relevance, and purpose (Davenport and Prusak, 1998).

According to Buckland (1991, p.45), data means information-as-thing processed in some way for use.

Bates (2005) found that ‘data’ usually referred to information gathered for further processing. Bates distinguished between meanings of so-called data 1 and data 2. The meaning of Bates’ data 2: ‘The second sense of data, or data 2, refers to information selected or generated by human beings for social purposes’.


Michael Buckland


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