Data Literacy for Researchers

An introductory guide to finding, analyzing, and communicating data in the research process.

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Sciences Data Librarian

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Ibraheem Ali
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Ashley Peterson

What is Data Literacy?

For the purposes of this guide, data literacy is defined as the ability to ethically find, analyze, and communicate data in the research process.

How to Use This Guide

This guide is organized by three stages of the research data life cycle:

1. Finding Data

2. Analyzing and Visualizing Data

3. Communicating Data

These stages are common to data-driven research across disciplines, though the definition of data itself can vary by discipline. Here are some examples:

Discipline Examples of data
physical sciences
  • Quantitative observations of natural phenomena
  • Images, photos, or videos
life sciences
  • Quantitative observations of biochemical, molecular, or environmental phenomena
  • Genetic sequencing information
  • Images, photos or videos
social sciences
  • Geospatial coordinates, survey results, demographic information
  • Aggregated social media content
  • Digitized texts
humanities
  • Digitized texts
  • Images or photos
  • Archives of personal correspondence or historical texts

For more information about the stages in the research data life cycle, see the UCLA Library Data Literacy Core Competencies.