Evaluating Data

The two sites that we were assigned to assess both touch on the how to effectively evaluate data sets and how to use them in an equally effective way. In the article written by Kelly McGuire, she talks about how important presentation is when presenting data by asking critical questions of the reader such as; “what is the data?”, “how is the data collected”, as well as”how often is the data updated and how?”. Near the end of the article she introduces an exceedingly important principle called “Occam’s Razor”. Which essentially says that the simpler something is to understand, the better. In what is perhaps the most integral part of the article, McGuire then goes on to illustrate how important this point is with data, and advises against just throwing complicated data at an issue; which is often seen as a way to better an argument. In the final line of the article she leaves readers with a short synopsis of her entire article when she states: “Don’t assume more is better, prove it”! In class on Friday, we were asked to find a data set from a multitude of sources that particularly appealed to us and evaluate it accordingly. The data set that I chose is entitled; “Grocery Stores – 2013” and list the locations of different food vendors in the Chicago area. This information is from a site with multiple forms of data called data.gov, and was published by data.cityofchicago.org . The data was collected by documenting all of the active grocery stores that were used by residents of Chicago and estimating how many Chicago residents were in what are known as food deserts in 2011. The data was originally collected in 2011, but was updated in 2013. The data is presented in the form of columns and rows, and is a geographical data set. To make this data useful I would need to present a map of the Chicago area and highlight the points where these grocery stores are and examine the percentage of residents who have access to these grocery stores.


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