What is data?
In basic terms, Data refers to a collection of information. Data is more than a collection of information. A more detailed definition includes types of data that combine to be the collected information such as numbers, words, pictures, video, audio, and concepts. Many definitions of data include the word fact, or facts, but this implies an inference about the data and not the data themselves.
Schreiber, J. B. (2008). Data. In L. Given, The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Retrieved from https://libproxy.usc.edu/login?url=http://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/sagequalrm/data/0
Since data is a collection of information who collects the information? There are many organizations that collect and provide free access to data. Meaning you do not need to pay to view the information. You can find free data in Google, The Census, Government Agencies, Financial Institutions, Health organization,such as the Center fro Disease Control (CDC), Education, State or Law Enforcement.
Some data is only available through a subscription/paid resource. The USC Libraries provides access to the following resources: CQ Press U.S. Political Stats, Data Planet Statistical Datasets, Data Planet Statistical Ready Reference