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Definitions of Data Categories (For Appendix 1 - Quick References)

    Data categories are groupings of data with common characteristics or features. The following table includes definitions and examples for major data categories. These definitions were jointly created by Danette McGilvray, author of Executing Data Quality: Ten Steps to Quality Data and

    Trusted Information and Gwen Thomas, founder of the Data Governance Institute.

    Data Category Definition Examples

    Master data describes the people, places, and things that are involved in an Master Data Customer Master

    organization’s business. Examples include customers, products, employees, suppliers, Employee Master

    and locations. Supplier Master

     Product Master

    Master data tends to be grouped into master records which may include associated Item Master

    reference data. An example of associated reference data is a state field within an Location Master

    address in a customer master record. Facilities Master

    Transactional data describes an internal or external event or transaction that takes Transactional Sales order Data place as an organization conducts its business. Examples include sales order, Invoice

    invoice, purchase order, shipping document, and application for a passport. Purchase order

     Shipping document

    Transactional data is typically grouped into transactional records which include Application for a passport

    associated master and reference data. Credit card payment

    Insurance claim

    Reference data are sets of values or classification schemas that are referred to by Reference Data List of valid values

    systems, applications, data stores, processes, and reports, as well as by transactional Code lists

    and master records. Status codes

     State abbreviations

    Standardized reference data are key to data integration and interoperability and ease Demographic fields

    the sharing and reporting of information. Reference data may be used to differentiate Flags

    one type of record from another for the purpose of categorization and analysis, or it Product types

    may be a significant fact such as country which appears within a larger information set Gender

    such as address. Chart of accounts

     Product hierarchy

    Organizations often create internal reference data to characterize or standardize their

    Page 1 of 3 ?2005-2008 Danette McGilvray Granite Falls Consulting, Inc, All Rights Reserved

    Data Category Definition Examples

    own information. Examples include code lists, chart of accounts, sales territories and

    product hierarchy.

Reference data sets are also defined by external groups such as government or

    regulatory bodies to be used by multiple organizations. For example, currency codes are defined and maintained by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

    Metadata is literally “data about data.” Metadata labels, describes, or characterizes Metadata Technical Metadata:

    other data and makes it easier to retrieve, interpret, or use information. Field names, definitions,

     length, and type.

    Technical metadata is metadata used to describe technology and data structures.

    Examples of technical metadata are field names, length, type, lineage, and database Business Metadata:

    table layouts. Report names, headings in

     reports and on web pages,

    Business metadata describes the non-technical aspects of data and its usage. application screen names,

    Examples of business metadata are field definitions, report names, lineage, and the and parties accountable for parties accountable for data quality for a particular field. Some organizations would the data.

    classify ETL (Extract-Transform-Load) transformations as business metadata.

     Audit Trail Metadata:

    Audit trail metadata is a specific type of metadata typically stored within a record and Timestamp, creator, create

    protected from alteration that captures how, when, and by whom the data was created, date, update date

    accessed, updated, or deleted. Audit trail data is used for security, compliance, or

    forensic purposes. Examples include timestamp, creator, create date, and update


    While audit trail metadata is typically stored within a record, technical metadata and business metadata are usually stored separately from the data they describe.

    While these are the most common types of metadata, it could be argued that there are other types of metadata that make it easier to retrieve, interpret, or use information. The label for any metadata may not as important as the fact that you are using it deliberately to support your data goals. Any discipline or activity that uses data is likely to have associated metadata.

    Page 2 of 3 ?2005-2008 Danette McGilvray Granite Falls Consulting, Inc, All Rights Reserved

Data Category Definition Examples

    Additional data categories that impact how systems and databases are designed and data are used:

    Historical data contain significant facts as of a certain point in time that should not be Historical Data Point in time reports

    altered except to correct an error. Historical data are important to security and Database snapshots

    compliance. Operational systems can also contain history tables for reporting or Version information

    analysis purposes. Examples include point in time reports, database snapshots and

    version information.

    Temporary data are kept in memory to speed up processing. Temporary data is not Temporary Data Copy of a table created

    viewed by humans and is used for technical purposes. Examples include a copy of a during a processing session

    table that is created during a processing session to speed up lookups. to speed up lookups

    ? 2007-2008 Danette McGilvray and Gwen Thomas. Used by permission.

    Page 3 of 3 ?2005-2008 Danette McGilvray Granite Falls Consulting, Inc, All Rights Reserved

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