More than five years ago, I penned a piece entitled Reliability and Validity in a Web 2.0 World. It spoke about the concerns of gathering data from biased samples — without first understanding in what ways, exactly, those samples may be biased.
Now, with the ubiquity of apps — downloadable programs for people’s smartphones — I’m seeing the same problem arise. Developers and entrepreneurs are pursuing data from these apps without understanding the basics of good, reliable, scientific data collection. And why it matters — especially when you start wanting to analyze all of this “big data” (a somewhat silly term… in epidemiology, for instance, scientists just call it “data”).
Can personal health data be collected by these apps without bias, and somehow be transformed into measuring something bigger?