Collecting Analytics Data Is Not the Same as Doing Research

Devices and software create what Davis and Davidson call “data exhaust,” the detritus of our interactions with various interfaces. But this information is not designed with falsifiability in mind. It’s a by-product. Collecting it is not the same as doing research.

Data from analytics cannot measure intentionality. They require a interpretation from the analyst, and one analyst’s interpretation may not match another’s. Each analyst brings their own values to their interpretation.

The abundance of data available to use has led to us spending more time creating data sets so that we can ask questions rather than asking the questions themselves. We need to worry less about hoarding data, and more about collecting the right data.



Ladner, Sam. Mixed Methods: A Short Guide to Applied Mixed Methods Research. Sam Ladner, 2019.