A relational database contains multiple related tables, where there is a unique key that explains the relationship between each of the tables. Relational databases are not designed for easy analysis. Consequently, relational databases typically need to be converted into some other file format before the data in them can be used for data analysis.
In the example below, the relational database consists of three tables:
- Person, which contains details about four people.
- Age, which defines the meaning of the values in the Age column of the Person table. We can see, for example, that person 1 has a value of 3 for Age, and this means the person's recorded age is 25 to 39.
Relational databases are not designed for easy analysis
Relational databases have many technical strengths. However, they are not straightforward for data analysis. The problem with them is that almost all analysis requires the joining of multiple tables, and the result of this is that analysis tends to be quite technical, and is typically done by writing code in SQL.
Relational databases tend to be exported into other formats for analysis
While most survey data is stored in relational databases when collected, it is typically exported into other file formats, such as SPSS, Excel, or CSV files that are more straightforward for analysis.