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Reference Data vs Master Data

 , updated on August 30, 2023
Reference data is information that is used to define other data.
Master data is any information that organizations can agree to share.

The Difference

Reference data is often composed of static identifiers such as the names of countries. Such data is reasonably constant but can change. For example, ticker symbols for stocks can be considered reference data that can be added, deleted or changed with some frequency.
Master data can include reference data and any other type of data that organizations agree to share. For example, it is common for organizations to share critical business entities such as customer and product records. Analytical data such as market feeds may also be considered master data.

Key Relationships

Reference data is one of many types of master data. Not all reference data can be considered master data as teams may set up their own reference data that differs from the organization.
Reference Data vs Master Data
Reference Data
Master Data
Definition
Constants that define permissible values for data.
Data that has a common definition across an organization.
Value
Data standardization
Validation
Data quality
Data quality
Reduced costs
Operational efficiencies
Streamlining data management and governance.
Reference Data
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Deep Magic
Degaussing
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ETL
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Hard Data
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Legacy Data
Machine Data
Market Research
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Metrics
Misuse of Statistics
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