When we do research, we seek answers. Any kind of social science research that involves people interacting with one another and those around them rarely produce clear answers, so the best we can hope for are insights. Where do we find insights? Data!

Data and information are not the same. Here’s a rule of thumb to use to keep them straight.

  • Data: an unorganized collection of facts.
  • Information: Structured and organized data that have been processed, interpreted, and organized.

So, when someone tells you to “show them the data,” they want the facts before someone packages it and wraps it up in a bow (that often can obscure the facts).

As design researchers, we deal with data and, after interpreting it, produce information. Let’s get to know the types of data.

Types of Data

Qualitative

Words, pictures, and other things that cannot be counted. Researchers often use methods like observations and interviews to collect this type of data. Qualitative data is helpful for design research because it describes qualities and characteristics—the details that shape an image, surface, smell, a story.

Quantitative

The value of data that is counted—that has a numerical value. Statistics like “89% of our class prefers chocolate ice cream” or “2 out of 3 dentists choose Crest toothpaste” are quantitative data. Numbers can be very convincing, but they don’t tell the whole story. If you rely on quantitative data, ensure your sample size is large enough so your study has adequate power for the claims you make.

Types of Statistical Data

  • Numerical
  • Categorical
  • Ordinal

Types of Statistical Data: Numerical, Categorical, and Ordinal from Statistics for Dummies

A Guide to Data Types in Statistics by Niklas Donges at BuiltIn

Common Data Types in Public Health Research at the National Institutes of Health Library

Demographic Data

Demographic Data at the National Institutes of Health Library

Demographics: How to Collect, Analyze, and Use Demographic Data at Investopedia

Databases for Demographics

Psychographic Information

A few must-read articles.

What is psychographic segmentation? A beginner’s guide from Qualtrics

What Is Psychographics? Understanding The Tech That Threatens Elections from CBInsights

Psychographics: What They Are & How Marketers Use Them at XDL

How to Use Psychographics in Your Marketing: A Beginner’s Guide by Alisa Meredith

Databases for Psychographics

Some of these may only be available to Miami University students. Check with your institution to learn if you have access.

Access these databases and more via the Marketing subject guide at the Miami University Libraries.

Market Segmentation

  • Demographic segmentation
  • Geographic segmentation
  • Firmographic segmentation
  • Behavioral segmentation
  • Psychographic segmentation

Market segmentation: Definition, types, benefits, & best practices from Qualtrics

Dennis Cheatham

Associate Professor, Communication Design

Miami University