Rethinking big data: A review on the data quality and usage issues

The recent explosive publications of big data studies have well documented the rise of big data and its ongoing prevalence. Different types of “big data” have emerged and have greatly enriched spatial information sciences and related fields in terms of breadth and granularity, Studies that were difficult to conduct in the past time due to data availability can now be executed. However, big data brings lots of “big errors” and cannot be used as a substitute for sound research design and solid theories. We indicated and summarized the problems faced by current big data studies with regard to data collection, processing and analysis: inauthentic data collection, information incompleteness and noise of big data, unrepresentativeness, consistency and reliability, and ethical issues. Cases of empirical studies are provided as evidences for each problem. We propose that big data research should closely follow good scientific practice to provide reliable and scientific “stories”, as well as explore and develop techniques and methods to mitigate or rectify those ‘big-errors’ brought by big data.

Relevant Papers

Jianzheng Liu, Jie Li, Weifeng Li, and Jiansheng Wu. 2015. Rethinking big data: A review on the data quality and usage issues. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. doi: 10.1016/j.isprsjprs.2015.11.006.
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  • 2015. The 3rd International Conference on Social Policy and Governance Innovation, organized by Department of Asian and Policy Studies in The Hong Kong Institute of Education and School of Public Administration in South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China, Nov 28-29, 2015. Presentation title: Rethinking big data: A review on the data quality and usage issues.
  • 2015. The 2015 Annual Conference of Economic Geography in China, organized by the Commission on Economic Geography of Geographical Society of China, Changchun, June 26-28, 2015. Presentation title: Authenticity of Big Data – A review on the Quality of Big Data.
  • 2015. The 6th International Conference of Spatially Integrated Humanities and Social Sciences, organized by Regional Science Association of China and College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Central China Normal University, Wuhan, June 21-22, 2015. Presentation title: Rethinking Big Data in Urban Studies.
  • 2015. The 8th Greater China Geographic Information Science Conference, Hong Kong, January 7-9. Presentation title: Rethinking Big Data in Urban Studies.