Scholarly work demands rigour in selection of data sources. In geographic research, spatial relationships are often the subject of study. The choice of maps are important, because distortions may lead to inaccurate interpretation of spatial relationships. In an age of speed and convenience, the internet offers a wide spread of data options, but uncritical data use may compromise the credibility of your work.
For an introduction to geospatial data quality, please refer to this report by W. Rasdorf (2000). For a start, he cited the US Spatial Data Transfer Standard which lists five components of data suitability assessment:
- Data lineage
- Positional accuracy
- Attribute accuracy
- Logical consistency
At the end of the paper an annotated bibliography listed further readings into various aspects of data quality.
For evaluation of non-spatial attributes, some preliminary questions include:
- Is the source authoritative?
- Is the level of currency suitable for the purpose?
- Is there undocumented bias in the data?
- Is it obtained from its undoctored primary source?