Before we start to examine the various sources of 'data' and how we can analyse and interpret it, it would be helpful to have some idea of what 'data' is.
There is no universal definition of the word 'data', the Collins English Dictionary – 21 st Century Edition gives this definition:
- A series of observations, measurements or facts; information.
- Also called: information. Computing – The information operated on by a computer program.
This session will focus upon the analysis and interpretation of data from 'secondary sources', but we first need to understand what 'primary' and 'secondary' sources are.
Primary Sources in the public services might include:
- Evidence from an eye witness
- A police Officer's notebook
- Interview audio tapes
- CCTV recordings
- Photographs of actual scenes, events or objects
- Items of evidence i.e. Stolen goods or a weapon
- Forensic evidence – fingerprints, fibres , DNA etc.
- Customer survey replies
Secondary Sources in the public sector might include:
The summary of evidence given by the prosecution or defence in a trial.
- Graphs, charts or percentages produced from statistical information.
- Reports summarising information and making recommendations.
- Websites summarising information or giving performance data in various categories.
- Books, magazines, newspapers etc giving information about the public services.
- Edited Television programmes or films about the services or involving them.