I wish you all a Merry Christmas. I have a question but found no solution to it using the search function.

I would like to ask whether summarizing and analyzing data from an existing online database could be considered original work? The database is freely accessible and it does not require registration. Data is completely anonymous. I can give an example:

Let us assume there is a database that contains information about the food quality at hospitals. People can upload their experience to a database without providing names / identifiable information. I would like to analyze the data and summarize it to answer basic questions (e.g. if people were satisfied with the food quality in hospitals in 2020 based on the ratings).

So I am not referring to a situation where one needs to register, e.g.: Using public profile data from website for research

My field is medicine.

1 Answer 1


Yes, the analysis is original, provided that you haven't been beaten to it by someone else. Data is just data, but it is the analysis that gives it meaning. Extracting that semantic content is what is important in research.

But "summarizing" may not be enough, depending on what you do.

And the source of the data has little bearing on the validity of the analysis.

Of course, editors and reviewers will have a say in the value of the work.

  • Thank you for your comment and your help. I was rather thinking that people might argue that this is not original work ... Sticking to my prior (very simplified) example: Person #1 says: Food Quality: Good. Freshness: Good. Person #2 says: Food Quality: Fair. Freshness: Fair. Person #3 says: Food Quality: Bad. Freshness: Okay. Etc... So do you think it is still original work if I copy that data from the homepage and summarize + analyze it? I am asking because it was not me who created the data.
    – Uncas
    Dec 25, 2020 at 15:10
  • As you state it in the comment, it feels weak. What conclusions can you draw, beyond elementary statistics? What do you see "going on" in the data that makes your work interesting?
    – Buffy
    Dec 25, 2020 at 15:22
  • Well I just used a simplified example. It is not what I actually would like to analyze. Just used this example to clarify how I acquired the data.
    – Uncas
    Dec 25, 2020 at 15:28

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