How is the concept of data different for different disciplines?


How is the concept of data different for different disciplines? Obviously, for physicists and sociologists, "data" is something different.


Posted 2014-09-02T09:48:08.150

Reputation: 111

1The variety of perspectives for this particular topic is not obvious for me. I'd say that: Data = symbols (of an alphabet). Information = data + syntax. Knowledge = information + semantics. – Trylks – 2014-09-02T16:27:09.260



Data is, at it's most basic reduction, a raw element of something. Data is a raw "thing" that exists in any form from which we can analyze it and construct intelligence. When I was an Intelligence Analyst, we used to define data as "anything and everything that could be used to construct a hypothesis."

Thus, data for any discipline is interchangeable; as a sociologist, I have a vector of discrete variables indicating ethnicity, as an economist I have a vector with housing prices, and as an anthropologist I have a vector of tablet names used in some long-gone civilization.

Data is data.

Jesse Lawson

Posted 2014-09-02T09:48:08.150

Reputation: 216

I'm not sure data is a "thing". If it is a thing, it should exist somewhere. Data doesn't exist anywhere. Take your own examples: (1) ethnicity: belonging to a social group - this quality does not "exist", but is assigned to an individual and a group of individuals. What counts as an ethnicity is a social construction and may differ between individuals, societies, and eras; (2) housing prices do not have existence either, but are a manifestation of perceived property/material/social value. But anyway, the point is taken that data is a construction that is used to make meaningful inferences. – Teusz – 2014-09-10T05:56:32.147

@mateuz I think you're saying the same thing that I am saying, just in a different way. Data is the approximation of some element which we have decided to measure in some way. – Jesse Lawson – 2014-12-23T00:28:37.500