The words data and information are commonly used interchangeably. While the distinction between the two may be subtle, depending on the context, it may also be significant.  

In addition, it's important to understand what knowledge and records are. 


Data - values or individual facts in their most basic format that exist independent of any given context. Data are raw values that can be processed. When data are processed, combined with other data, organised, structured or presented in a given context, it is referred to as information. Examples include individual fields in a database or pixels in an image file.


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Information consists of data that has been processed, analysed, or interpreted within a given context. Information can exist in any format. Examples include physical (paper, DNA) or digital (audio, PDF file, .jpeg). 

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Records consists of information that has been generated or received by UQ in the course of its activities that is retained by UQ as evidence of activities or decisions, or because the information has cultural, community or organisational value. Certain records must be retained for a specified period to meet legislative requirements. Records can be managed in a range of systems, both digitally and physically. Examples include meeting minutes, contracts and financial transactions. 

Retention and Disposal Schedules refer to the legally binding documents that have been authorised by Queensland State Archives, the authority on records governance for public entities such as UQ. They define the status, minimum retention periods and consequent disposal actions authorised for specific classes of records.

Learn more about Records at UQ at the Records Management and Advisory Services website

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Data Governance terms

Data needs to be effectively governed in order to fully capitalise on its value. Data Governance commonly refers to the below terms in relation to data and information. 

  • An Information Domain – a broad category or theme under which University information can be identified and managed. See the Information Entity Catalogue for an overview of the information domains at UQ.
    Examples of Information Domains are: Teaching and Learning data, Finance data, Human Resources data etc. 

  • An Information Entity is a specific group of information that is related to an Information Domain.  
    Examples of Information Entities are: ‘Digital Learning' data for Teaching and Learning domain, ‘Budget’ data for the Finance domain, ‘Salary’ data for the Human Resources domain, etc. 

  • Datasets are a collection of related data elements that can be integrated and combined into one. Most commonly a Dataset corresponds to the contents of a single database table. 
    Examples of Datasets are: Blackboard Clickstream data, WiFi logs, SiNet HR datasets, etc. 

  • Data Elements are the smallest named item of data that conveys meaningful information or condenses lengthy description into a short code. Data elements are called ‘data field’ in the structure of a database. 
    Examples of Data Elements are: course_id, timestamp, etc. 

  • An Information Asset is a body of information, defined and managed as a single unit so it can be understood, shared, protected and exploited effectively. Information assets have recognisable and manageable value, risk, content and lifecycles. 
    *Note: this can be in the form of an information entity, collection of datasets, data elements, and so on.  

  • Information Management is a collection of capabilities delivered through people, processes and technology to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, availability, quality and security of our information assets throughout their life cycle.

  • Information Governance is a collection of practices and processes, which provides a formal framework to apply control through defined roles and responsibilities for the management of information and data assets throughout their information lifecycle.

  • Information Standards defines and promotes best practice in the acquisition, development, management, support and use of information systems and technology infrastructure which support the business processes and service delivery of Queensland public authorities.

  •   UQ community – anyone who uses UQ information and communications technology (ICT) resources, and anyone who creates, accesses or uses UQ’s information. This includes (but is not limited to) students, staff, contractors and consultants, visitors, title holders and third parties.

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