Difference Between Data and Information

Data vs Information

Since the people in the modern world use the terms data and information very often and interchangeably at times, it is quite useful to know the difference between data and information. There are certain terms of the English language that we take for granted and use interchangeably without knowing the correct usage of these words. Two such terms are data and information, used in everyday life and substituted for one another as we please. However, there is a significant difference between the two words which requires clarity for even those whose first language is English. Data are the facts and statistics collected in the raw form for reference or analysis whereas information is processed data.

What is Data?

Data is information presented in raw form for further usage. This may be presented in an unorganized manner which may make no sense at all until organized properly. When researchers conduct surveys, they get answers to their questions via tools like questionnaires. These questionnaires at most times have options present as “a”, “b”, “c”, etc. When compiled together these alphabets make no sense on their own till they start referring to certain situations, answers or conditions. In computer lingo, data is the symbols or signals that are entered as commands. What it results in is organized information. Data on its own may be of no use till organized properly.

What is Information?

Information is processed data that becomes of use to someone as raw data on its own does not provide the kind of information that can be used for beneficial purposes. Information is meaningful, relevant and helps the user to develop an understanding of the data that did not provide any coherence or certainty in what it represented. When researchers input data and then form correlations between the data and variables they have, this provides them with certain relationships between variables that are known as information.

What is the difference between Data and Information?

When starting off with any research, data is the most basic form of input that a researcher possesses that has no meaning on its own. Some data needs to be arranged while others need to be put together with different variables to show a coherence in results. Data can be qualitative as well as quantitative which when arranged provides the user with information that can be used to gain knowledge or can act as a food for thought. In computer lingo, the data that is entered into the computer is presented in binary form, which when arranged gives an output to the user that is of importance to the user. Such an output is, therefore, termed as information.

Difference Between Data and Information


Data vs Information

• Though the two terms, data and information, are used interchangeably and there may be a certain difficulty explaining the difference between data and information.

• The major distinction lies in the fact, that something that cannot be explained and is presented as a fact is data, whereas data that can be explained is termed information.

• Data is frequently obtained as a result of observations that are recorded. For example, the top speed of different kinds of car. On their own, these numbers will not mean anything until they are properly listed against the name of the cars in which case the previously present raw unorganized data becomes the organized and meaningful information.

In Latin, data is the plural of datum. Historically and in specialized scientific fields , it is also treated as a plural in English, taking a plural verb, as in the data were collected and classified. In modern non-scientific use, however, it is not treated as a plural. Instead, it is treated as a mass noun, similar to information, which takes a singular verb. Sentences such as data were collected over a number of years are now widely accepted in standard English.


Further Reading:

  1. Difference Between News and Information
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