This paper uses several case studies to suggest that 1) two prominent definitions of data do not on their own capture how scientists use data and 2) a novel perspectival account of data is needed. It then outlines some key features of what this account could look like. Those views, the relational and representational, do not fully capture what data are and how they function in science. The representational view is insensitive to the scientific context in which data are used. The relational account does not fully account for the empirical nature of data and how it is possible for data to be evidentially useful. The perspectival account surmounts these problems by accommodating a representational element to data. At the same time, data depend upon the epistemic context because they are the product of situated and informed judgements.
- relational account