Certain U.S. federal grant applications require the use of "recent" data, e.g.

data used to support the application should come from recent (i.e. within the past 5 years) published source

Is there a standard by which one should determine the recency of a dataset? For example, American Community Survey data for 2007 - 2011 wasn't released until late 2012. Do you consider data to be as 'old' as its date of collection, projection date or release?

  • Is this for a specific grant application? I can see how this could be considered a gray area.
    – Ryan Gates
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 20:34
  • @RyanGates yes, and it's for community economic development groups, which makes paying for data particularly unattractive Commented May 9, 2013 at 22:22

1 Answer 1


The way I read the question it seems like you're asking whether "old" data can still be considered recent.

Larger data sets or data that is published at some frequency may not always be current. It takes time to scrub data for publication. Technically, the data is considered current if you're using the most recent published data. In other words, if a data set is published end of year, you will have "current" data up until the new data is published.

However, if the data is used by an application, typically the users/shareholders of that application understand the publication cycle of data being used.

  • In some applications they actually specify the data to use even if more recent data exists (e.g. CDFI FY13 wanted ACS 2010 data to determine qualifying census tracts)- it becomes more confusing, though, with outside data sources with the 'in the last five years' being ambiguous Commented May 10, 2013 at 13:40

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