There is a subtle difference between data and information. Data are the facts or details from which information is derived. Data is simply facts or figures, bits of information, but not information itself. When data is processed, interpreted, organized, structured, or presented to be meaningful or useful, it is called information. The information provides context for the data.
“Data” and “information” are intimately linked, whether one recognizes them as two separate words or uses them interchangeably, as is common today. Before data can be turned into information, it must be collected, organized, stored, analyzed, and managed.
In some cases, data will be collected on paper (job application forms, questionnaires, etc.) or physically (focus groups, job interviews, etc.). However, collecting data electronically via computer may reduce further processing.
Differences between data and information
• The data is used as input to the computer system. Information is the output of data.
• Data are raw factual figures. The information is processed data.
• Data does not depend on information. Information depends on data.
• The data is not specific. The information is specific.
• The data is a single unit. A group of data that carries news and meaning is called information.
• The data has no meaning. The information must have a logical meaning.
• Data is the raw material. The information is the product.
Examples of differences between data and information
Here are four examples of how data differs from information:
- While data does not depend on information, information does depend on data.
- Data is “input” and information is “output.”
- Data is raw material and information is the product.
- Data is a single unit and information is a grouping of data.