structured data [English]

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Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ 1. Data organized into distinct elements established by a data model or standard. – 2. A container that imposes an organization to classify or semantically tag information, which may be structured or unstructured.

General Notes

Structured data usually refers to data that is atomic and stored in distinct fields according to the character or use of the type of data. Examples include relational databases and spreadsheets. By comparison, XML is a container that uses tags, rather than a data model, to identify elements.


  • Cripe 2007 (†452 ): The labels "structured data" and "unstructured data" are often used ambiguously by different interest groups; and often used lazily to cover multiple distinct aspects of the issue. In reality, there are at least three orthogonal aspects to structure: · The structure of the data itself. · The structure of the container that hosts the data. · The structure of the access method used to access the data. ¶These three dimensions are largely independent and one does not need to imply another. For example, it is absolutely feasible and reasonable to store unstructured data in a structured database container and access it by unstructured search mechanisms. [Quoting Duncan Pauley.] (†620)
  • Franks 2013 (†560 p.36): Structured data is organized in a way that makes it identifiable. A database such as Access or SQL is structured in the form of columns and rows, which makes searching for the data type within the content possible. All other electronic information that has the potential to be records is stored as unstructured data. (†1850)
  • Gingrich & Morris 2006 (†358 p. 31): [S]tructured data is defined as data stored in fields and rows in tables of a relational database.... Examples would include databases containing accounting and financial data, customer data, and personnel data. (†348)
  • Hamilton 2011 (†360 p. 28): Databases contain information that can also be considered to be part of a record. This type of information, called structured data, contains information in logical elements within tables. (†350)
  • Jacoby, Vint, and Simon 2013 (†359 p. 2): Unlike unstructured data, which typically exists as static and self-contained files that are preserved, collected, processed, reviewed, authenticated, and admitted into evidence as stand alone documents, structured data exists as segments of information inside a larger system, one that is often quite complex and contains many parts. A database record, the closest analog that structured data has to a “document,” may not actually exist until a user performs some action through the database system to assemble a number of separate fields that could reside in many different parts of the system. For this reason, information stored in a database cannot be placed into a standard e-discovery review system that has been optimized to view and categorize unstructured data. (†349)
  • NIST 2013 (†734 p. F-16): Structured data permits the interpretation of data content by applications. (†1814)
  • PC Magazine Encyclopedia 2014 (†451 s.v. "structured data"): Data that resides in fixed fields within a record or file. Relational databases and spreadsheets are examples of structured data. Although data in XML files are not fixed in location like traditional database records, they are nevertheless structured, because the data are tagged and can be accurately identified. Contrast with unstructured data. See record, file, database and spreadsheet. (†610)
  • What is Unstructured Data 2014 (†455 ): Structured data is best known as relational data, but is any text based data stored in such a way that enables it to be accessed and queried to an agree standard. For relational data, its stored in a well defined mathematical structure with official rules and standards for accessing and manipulating it. Other types of databases storing text data exist and conform to different standards. Any data that is not stored in a well defined structured format can by default be seen as unstructured. The traditional view is that unstructured data is just any binary data. There is a fuzzy area between structured and unstructured, more akin to saying there are degrees of structure and there is a lot of overlap. It's possible to store unstructured data in a column in a relational table, which is structured. (†628)
  • What is Unstructured Data 2014 (†455 ): Any data stored in a well defined, non propriety system. Data is primarily text based. Typically conforms to ACID. (†630)