Types of Data

Publication Year: 08. 04. 2017    Date of last inspection: 08. 04. 2017


In the Catalogue of the ADP we offer quantitative and qualitative data. Data is not aggregated and presents individual study unit, for example, an individual, a household, a company. Data can be analyzed independently in selected statistical packages  (such as SPSS, R, Stata, Nvivo, Atlas.ti etc.).

  • Microdata: are data on the level of individual minimal unit of analysis. Data are mostly collected on the level of an individual with the use of structured/semi-structured or open questionnaire/interview. In such a data file typically every row represents an individual and every column a feature (for example gender, employment status, age etc.).
  • Macro data: are usually aggregated variables on the level of spatial units, such as municipalities, regions, countries etc. Such data is not present in the Catalogue of the ADP, they are accessible at statistical offices and other international organizations (for example OECD, UNESCO) (see section Other data sources).
  • Mezo data: are data about collective or social actors, such as companies, organisations or political parties.




Data consisting largely of values expressed as digits from 0 to 9 and, optionally, signs for negative values, decimal points, or letters only when intended to represent numbers (for example, A-F or a-f in hexadecimal).


Data consisting largely of text, including letters, numbers, and special characters or symbols used in writing for punctuation, abbreviation, etc. For example, interview transcriptions, narratives or essays written by study participants, newspaper articles, etc.

still image

Static images, such as graphs, drawings, photographs, diagnostic/medical images like X-rays, etc.


Geospatial data are any type of data with spatial coordinates that allow them to be mapped to the Earth's surface. They can represent physical objects, discrete areas or continuous surfaces. Discrete geospatial data are usually represented using vector data consisting of points, lines and polygons, while continuous geospatial data are usually represented by raster data, consisting of a grid of cells that each has its own value. Any number of applications in a wide range of areas produce geospatial data, such as GIS, Remote Sensing equipment, GPS units, archaeological total stations, manual mapping and computer-aided design (CAD), in a number of formats, including images, vector, text, and tabular data. Vector-based geospatial data include tables listing archaeological sites along with their coordinates, text-based files (e.g. XML) containing coordinates and topology for historic road networks, voting figures for political parties by administrative area. Raster-based geospatial data include satellite images, aerial photographs, scanned maps, and digital maps of elevations, vegetation, land-use, sea surface temperatures, air pollution, soil-types, etc.


Recorded sound, including voice, music, etc.


Moving images. May include films, animation, digital recordings, visual output from simulations, recorded television programs, etc. May be mute or may include synchronized sound.


Computer program(s) in source code (human-readable) or compiled form.

interactive resource

A resource requiring interaction from the user to be understood, executed, or experienced. For example, training modules, query/response portals, files that require action from the user, etc.


Virtual three-dimensional representations of objects, architecture, places, etc.


Use when the kind of data format is known, but not found in the list.




A pre-planned communication between two (or more) people - the interviewer(s) and the interviewee(s) - in which information is obtained by the interviewer(s) from the interviewee(s).If group interaction is part of the method, use “Focus group”.

Face-to-face interview

Data collection method in which a live interviewer conducts a personal interview, presenting questions and entering the responses. Use this broader term if not CAPI or PAPI, or if not known whether CAPI/PAPI or not.

Face-to-face interview: CAPI/CAMI

Computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI). Data collection method in which the interviewer reads questions to the respondents from the screen of a computer, laptop, or a mobile device like tablet or smartphone, and enters the answers in the same device. The administration of the interview is managed by a specifically designed program/application.

Face-to-face interview: PAPI

Paper-and-pencil interviewing. The interviewer uses a traditional paper questionnaire to read the questions and enter the answers.

Telephone interview

Interview administered on the telephone. Use this broader term if not CATI, or if not known whether CATI or not.

Telephone interview: CATI

Computer-assisted telephone interviewing. The interviewer asks questions as directed by a computer, responses are keyed directly into the computer and the administration of the interview is managed by a specifically designed program.

E-mail interview

Interviews conducted via e-mail, usually consisting of several e-mail messages that allow the discussion to continue beyond the first set of questions and answers, or the first e-mail exchange.

Web-based interview

An interview conducted via the Internet. For example, interviews conducted within online forums or using web-based audio-visual technology that enables the interviewer(s) and interviewee(s) to communicate in real time.

Self-administered questionnaire

Data collection method in which the respondent reads or listens to the questions, and enters the responses by him/herself; no live interviewer is present, or participates in the questionnaire administration. If possible, use a narrower term. Use this broader term if the method is not described by any of the narrower terms - for example, for PDF and diskette questionnaires.

Self-administered questionnaire: e-mail

Self-administered survey in which questions are presented to the respondent in the text body of an e-mail or as an attachment to an e-mail, but not as a link to a web-based questionnaire. Responses are also sent back via e-mail, in the e-mail body or as an attachment.

Self-administered questionnaire: paper

Self-administered survey using a traditional paper questionnaire delivered and/or collected by mail (postal services), by fax, or in person by either interviewer, or respondent.

Self-administered questionnaire: SMS/MMS

Self-administered survey in which the respondents receive the questions incorporated in SMS (text messages) or MMS (messages including multimedia content) and send their replies in the same format.

Self-administered questionnaire: Web-based

Computer-assisted web interviewing (CAWI). Data are collected using a web questionnaire, produced with a program for creating web surveys. The program can customize the flow of the questionnaire based on the answers provided, and can allow for the questionnaire to contain pictures, audio and video clips, links to different web pages etc. (adapted from Wikipedia).

Self-administered questionnaire: Computer-assisted (CASI)

Computer-assisted self-interview (CASI). Respondents enter the responses into a computer (desktop, laptop, Palm/PDA, tablet, etc.) by themselves. The administration of the questionnaire is managed by a specifically designed program/application but there is no real-time data transfer as in CAWI, the answers are stored on the device used for the interview. The questionnaire may be fixed form or interactive. Includes VCASI (Video computer-assisted self-interviewing), ACASI (Audio computer-assisted self-interviewing) and TACASI (Telephone audio computer-assisted self-interviewing).

Focus group

A group discussion on a particular topic, organized for research purposes. The individuals are selected with relevance to the topic, and interaction among the participants is used as part of the method.

Face-to-face focus group

The focus group participants meet in person to conduct the discussion.

Telephone focus group

The focus group discussion is conducted over the telephone.

Online focus group

The focus group discussion is conducted over the Internet in an interactive manner.

Self-administered writings and/or diaries

Narratives, stories, diaries, and written texts created by the research subject.

Self-administered writings and/or diaries: e-mail

Narratives, stories, diaries, and written texts submitted via e-mailmessages.

Self-administered writings and/or diaries: paper

Narratives, stories, diaries, and written texts created and collected in paper form.

Self-administered writings and/or diaries: web-based

Narratives, stories, diaries, and written texts gathered from Internet sources, e.g. websites, blogs, discussion forums.


Research method that involves collecting data as they occur (for example, observing behaviors, events, development of condition or disease, etc.), without attempting to manipulate any of the independent variables.

Field observation

Observation that is conducted in a natural environment.

Participant field observation

Type of field observation in which the researcher interacts with the subjects and often plays a role in the social situation under observation.

Non-participant field observation

Observation that is conducted in a natural, non-controlled setting without any interaction between the researcher and his/her subjects.

Laboratory observation

Observation that is conducted in a controlled, artificially created setting. For example, observing children's play in a laboratory playroom.

Participant laboratory observation

Type of laboratory observation in which the researcher interacts with the subjects and often plays a role in the social situation under observation. For example, observing children's play in a laboratory playroom with the researcher taking part in the play.

Non-participant laboratory observation

Type of laboratory observation that is conducted without any interaction between the researcher and his/her subjects.

Computer-based observation

Type of observation in which data regarding computer usage are being collected by software that can be built into the computer program itself or can be a separate program. Information may be collected about the number of users, the ways in which users interact with the program(s), how much time they spend on a page, how they use specific sections of applications, how they navigate from page to page or from one application to another, etc.


Research method involving the manipulation of some or all of the independent variables included in the hypotheses.

Laboratory experiment

An experiment conducted in a controlled, artificially created physical setting, in which a researcher manipulates one or several independent variables and measures its/their effect on the dependent variable.

Field/Intervention experiment

An experiment conducted in a natural, uncontrolled setting, in which the researcher manipulates one or several independent variables. Intervention/clinical studies are one example of field experiments.

Web-based experiment

An experiment conducted in the virtual setting of the World Wide Web, in which experimental materials are programmed to implement artificial situations or events to be investigated in a distributed environment.


Registering by mechanical or electronic means, in a form that allows the information to be retrieved and/or reproduced. For example, images or sounds on disc or magnetic tape.

Content coding

As a mode of secondary data collection, content coding applies coding techniques to transform qualitative data (textual, video, audio or still-image) originally produced for other purposes into quantitative data (expressed in unit-by-variable matrices) in accordance with pre-defined categorization schemes. For example, coded party manifesto data like the "European Parliament Election Study 2009, Manifesto Study" (doi:10.4232/1.10204)".


Capturing information in writing from a different source, or from a different medium, alphabet, or form of notation, like scientific formulae, or musical notes. For transcribed interviews or observations, it is recommended to document the primary mode of collection, using one of the interview or observation terms.


Collecting and assembling data from multiple, often heterogeneous sources that have one or more reference points in common, and at least one of the sources was originally produced for other purposes. The data are incorporated in a new entity. For example, providing data on the number of universities in the last 150 years using a variety of available sources (e.g. finance documents, official statistics, university registers), combining survey data with information about geographical areas from official statistics (e.g. population density, doctors per capita, etc.), or using RSS to collect blog posts or tweets, etc.


Presentation of information in a condensed form, by reducing it to its main points. For example, abstracts of interviews or reports that are published and used as data rather than the full-length interviews or reports.


Statistics that relate to broad classes, groups, or categories. The data are averaged, totaled, or otherwise derived from individual-level data, and it is no longer possible to distinguish the characteristics of individuals within those classes, groups, or categories. For example, the number and age group of the unemployed in specific geographic regions, or national level statistics on the occurrence of specific offences, originally derived from the statistics of individual police districts.


Modeling or imitative representation of real-world processes, events, or systems, often using computer programs. For example, a program modeling household consumption responses to indirect tax changes; or a dataset on hypothetical patients and their drug exposure, background conditions, and known adverse events.

Measurements and tests

Assessing specific properties (or characteristics) of beings, things, phenomena, (and/ or processes) by applying pre-established standards and/or specialized instruments or techniques.

Educational measurements and tests

Assessment of knowledge, skills, aptitude, or educational achievement by means of specialized measures or tests.

Physical measurements and tests

Assessment of physical properties of living beings, objects, materials, or natural phenomena. For example, findings from hands-on medical examination (e.g., palpation or auscultation), clinical measurements and lab tests like blood analysis, blood pressure, heart rate, body weight and height, as well as general measurements like time, distance, mass, temperature, force, power, speed, GPS data on physical movement and other physical parameters or variables, like geospatial data.

Psychological measurements and tests

Assessment of personality traits or psychological/behavioral responses by means of specialized measures or tests. For example, objective tests like self-report measures with a restricted response format, or projective methods allowing free responses, including word association, sentence or story completion, vignettes, cartoon test, thematic apperception tests, role play, drawing tests, inkblot tests, choice ordering exercises, etc.


Use if the mode of data collection is known, but not found in the list.


  How to cite this page?

Social Science Data Archives. YEAR. Types of Data. Accessed: http://adp.fdv.uni-lj.si/eng/uporabi/raziskave/podatki/ (DD. month year).


Politbarometer PB5/95, Slovenia, : May 1995, CJMMK

18. June 2020 |

Konferenca: Raziskovalni podatki in Evropski oblak odprte znanosti

11. March 2020 | Velika dvorana Ministrstva za izobraževanje, znanost in šport, Masarykova 16, Ljubljana

Delavnica: Ravnanje z raziskovalnimi podatki

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ADP is part of the Social Sciences Research Institute of the Faculty of Social Sciences. The Slovenian Research Agency provides funding of the ADP within the infrastructure program "Network of Research and Infrastructural Centres" The ADP is a member of the umbrella organization of the European Social Science Data Archives CESSDA ERIC. © ADP (ISSN 2385-9415) | 1997 - 2017 | arhiv.podatkov@fdv.uni-lj.si