Data vs. Information

What is the difference between data and information?

There is a direct relationship between data and information even though the two are different. Data refers to facts and statistics that are collected for evidence and information refers to the processed data that is put into words that people can understand.

Data and information are two of the many words in the English language that are often use interchangeably and that people take for granted without actually realizing that the words have different meanings. Even though we used these many times in our daily life as being one and the same, it is important to clarify their meanings to ensure that they are used properly.

What is data?

Data is information but it is in its raw form. It is just statistics and is presented in a form that will not provide you with sensible information. It has to be organized in order for anyone to make sense of the data. For example, the data may include information collected from a survey and as data it is only a collection of answers.  Answers may be only in a, b, c format and without going through the questionnaire the answers will not mean anything at all in this format.  Data is also represented in computer language so that the processor will understand the commands. On its own data is useless until it is organized and analyzed.

What is information?

Information is processed data in which you can make sense of all the pieces of raw evidence that is collected in many different forms. It is meaningful and has relevance to those to whom it is presented. It interprets the data and shows relationships between variables represented in raw data.

Difference between data and information

Data is the basic input that a researcher has to start with in order to come up with a sensible document. It has no meaning on its own and has to be organized in some manner in order to become meaningful. It can be qualitative as well as quantitative and the two forms of raw data must be combined in order to show relevance and relationships between variables in the research.

Once data is processed into information it can provide evidence or lead to further investigation to disprove or prove a different point. When data is entered into a computer processor, for example, it is in binary form, but when it comes out as information the user can better understand it.

Summary

Even though it is not correct to use the words data and information interchangeably, it is very difficult to explain how they are different. Data cannot be understood on its own because it is in its raw state just as it has been collected in the research. It has to be organized and analyzed and written in a different format so that those for whom it is relevant can understand it.