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

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    $\begingroup$ The 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. $\endgroup$ – Trylks Sep 2 '14 at 16:27
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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.

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  • $\begingroup$ 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. $\endgroup$ – Teusz Sep 10 '14 at 5:56
  • $\begingroup$ @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. $\endgroup$ – Jesse Lawson Dec 23 '14 at 0:28

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