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What is actionable data and why this blog? A manifesto of sorts

As far as I can tell, the concept of actionable data rose out of the action-oriented research movement (see Kurt Lewin’s work) though I believe many sociologists, psychologists, educators, and other applied researchers have practiced the concepts for eons.

The term– actionable data — is now appropriately used in program evaluation, business analytics, marketing, and other areas of research. Webster’s definition of actionable is simple – something that is actionable “is capable of being acted upon.” Actionable data, then, is data that is useful.

Anyway, shouldn’t all data be useful? In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, yes. In fact, I feel strongly that the very purpose of data lies in its use, that all data should be purposefully gathered, and that data collection be fundamentally driven by use, be that use anticipated, planned, intended and maybe even unintended (shoutout to Michael Quinn Patton for his work on utilization-focused evaluation).

However, in the real world, there is (are?*) gobs of data that sit unused for a multitude of reasons. Through this blog I hope to share ideas, methods, tips, tricks, plans, etc. that promote actionable data and its (wise) use. I anticipate learning a great deal through my own explorations as I develop blog posts, and I am looking forward to what I will learn from your comments as well. I see this blog as a learning tool for me as well as a method for actionable data advocacy in and of itself.

* For advice on proper use of the word data, see this Grammar Girl post

Posted in What is "actionable data"?

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