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st: best way to manage data with recoding

From   "Christopher W. Ryan" <>
To   Statalist <>
Subject   st: best way to manage data with recoding
Date   Thu, 01 Sep 2005 13:22:27 -0400

I am conducting a study that involves some paper-pencil Likert-scale survey instruments. Some of the items are reverse-scored to calculate the final scale score. I plan to use Epidata to enter the data.

What is the best and most legitimate way to handle the reversed coding:

1. reverse the scores on the fly at data entry time and enter them the reversed way? (seems onerous and prone to error)

2. enter the scores as written by the subjects, then use Stata to recode them, and save the now-modified dataset (writing over the original one), to use for the subsequent analyses?

3. enter the scores as written by the subjects, and leave the "raw" dataset like that, doing a recoding at the start of each analysis session, thus preserving the original dataset?

4. make a new dataset, with the relevant items recoded, and save both the raw and the "working" dataset?

5. something else?

Christopher W. Ryan, MD
SUNY Upstate Medical University Clinical Campus at Binghamton
and Wilson Family Practice Residency, Johnson City, NY
GnuPG and PGP public keys available at

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." [Antoine de St. Exupery]
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