What is a data file?

A data file is not the analyzed findings of a study or statistics, but the raw collected data from which these statistics might be extrapolated. It usually consists of rows and columns of alphanumeric characters. The majority of our data files are ASCII fixed-format files. The storage formats of data files may be either logical record length format, card image, or delimited format. The physical structure of data files also varies and may be either rectangular, hierarchical, or relational. Some data collections may also include data available in other formats, such as SPSS portable files or SAS transport files.