This Glossary of Common Data Terms was developed locally as a non-technical resource for those interested in expanding their functional data vocabulary. This glossary contains commonly used data terms defined in easy-to-understand language. Although the definitions are informal and non-academic, the following academic texts heavily informed their development:

Shryock, H.S., and Siegel, J.S. The Methods and Materials of Demography. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1976.
Haupt, A. and Kane, T.T. Population Handbook. Washington, DC: Population Reference Bureau, Inc., 1978.

Click here for a printable version of the Glossary of Common Data Terms.

All | # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
There are currently 7 names in this directory beginning with the letter A.
Administrative data
data generated in the everyday course of business, like sales data in a grocery store, attendance data in a school, or diagnosis data in a doctor’s office. Administrative data is a type of secondary data. See Secondary data.

Age distribution
the frequency of different ages or age groups in a population.

Age-adjusted rate
a rate with a calculation applied to allow an “apples to apples” comparison between populations with different age distributions. For example, an older population may have a higher crude death rate than a younger population, even if the younger population is shouldering a greater burden of lethal issues like drug overdose, severe asthma, breast cancer, or homicide. Age-adjusted rates artificially standardize the two populations’ crude rates against a single “reference population” so that the confusing influence of age distribution is removed. These rates are useful for comparison purposes only and should not be used to describe a measure for a single population. See Age distribution, Crude rate, Age-specific rate, and Rate.

Age-specific rate
the number of cases or events in a given age group divided by the total population of that age group. See Rate, Age-adjusted rate, and Crude rate.

Aggregate data
individual data records that have been “rolled up” to a summary level. Data can be aggregated in many different ways. Data are often aggregated by geography like zip code or by some characteristic like race/ethnicity or age group.

acronym for “Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy.” AISP is an initiative housed at the University of Pennsylvania that focuses specifically “on the development, use, and innovation of integrated data systems (IDS) for policy analysis and program reform” and not community data in general. See Integrated Data Systems.

the average describes the typical value in a set of values and is calculated as the sum of the values divided by the number of values. It is important to look at the individual values when interpreting because an average can be influenced (skewed) by extreme high or low values in the dataset. The average and Mean are the same thing.




Below are a few of the many free resources available online for those who would like to learn more about data, from the basics to advanced concepts and skills.

  1. School of Data.
  2. Data-Pop Alliance.
  3. Oceans of Data Institute.