What is research data? Some Examples

1. Introduction

What is research data? 

Data is all around us – it is the lifeblood of any researcher and that includes historians.  By data we don’t just mean statistics or the fact that you might have created a database in the process of your research; although both are legitimate types of data.  What we mean is something/anything that you produce in the process of researching any given topic. 

Those notes that you took in the lecture last week – that’s data.  That transcription you made from an old manuscript or that twentieth-century communique – that’s data too.  An interview recorded with a war veteran – that’s data.  A photograph or map – data.    

It is not easy to describe what research data is for an historian as it is so varied. It is easier to show. Therefore, as a means to demonstrate this fact the following pages contain a few case studies where postgraduate students and researchers describe the types of ‘data’ that they are working with.