What Is a Collection of Unprocessed Items Called?

When unprocessed, or raw, items such as numbers, pictures and text are grouped in a collection, this collection is called data. These items may be stored in print or electronic form. Without any context to help make sense of the data's meaning, however, the data isn't helpful for making conclusions or decisions.

Individuals can make data meaningful by setting a purpose for collecting the data. For example, a scientist might take several measurements and record each number as a data point. The scientist can then look at the data gathered to obtain information about the set of data. For example, the scientist might make a conclusion based on his or her observations about a specific data point. Further analysis of the data can lead to insight, which can help the scientist decide an action to take based on the findings, thus helping with decision making.