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st: RE: Re: Stata, data processing, databases, and consultants


From   "Buzz Burhans" <buzzb3@verizon.net>
To   <statalist@hsphsun2.harvard.edu>
Subject   st: RE: Re: Stata, data processing, databases, and consultants
Date   Sat, 08 Sep 2007 10:03:59 -0600

I'd like to thank Michael Blasnik, Phil Schumm, and Ian Watson for their
responses to my questions.  In different aspects, they have each provided
very useful insights, and most importantly to me, considerations based on
working experience with similar tasks.

Thanks very very much.

Buzz

Buzz Burhans, Ph.D.

Dairy-Tech Group
Twin Falls, ID
Phone: 208-320-0829
Fax: 208-735-1289 

Email: buzzb3@verizon.net

> Dear statalisters,
>
> I'd appreciate the opinions of those who have experience using /
programming
> Stata in applications that interconnect with local databases where data
are
> accessed, processed, and reports generated by other people who are not the
> programmer or creator of the system.
>
> I am affiliated with small group of consultants to the dairy industry. We
> collect, aggregate, and assess data about dairy herd performance. The data
> are varied in type, and include individual animal health and performance
> records which are typically updated monthly, pen level data aggregated
from
> the individual animal data, pen level data collected during herd visits on
> handwritten forms, monthly herd level data, diet data captured from other
> software, and interactive forms that allow updating cost and price
> information.  The individual animal data is exported from multiple
different
> herd management software programs, and require a fair amount of
manipulation
> to standardize and process into our reports.
>
> Recently I have used Stata to accumulate and process the data.  Using
> Stata's -insheet- and -odbc- capabilities I use a combination of 2
> databases: MS Access and Alpha 5, an Excel spreadsheet used as a data
> repository, other Excel spreadsheets for reporting with ranges which are
> populated with imported text files which I generate in Stata do files.  It
> mostly runs from a custom User menu in Stata. It has become unwieldy,
though
> it works.
>
> My questions:
>
> 1. The current form of this reporting system is centered on using Stata to
> process the data because I can accomplish enough Stata programming to
> automate this -but I am by no means an accomplished Stata programmer.  It
is
> likely that the whole project should be handed over to a database
consultant
> and reconstructed as a single unified database.  However, for several
> reasons I would prefer to keep it linked to Stata. Is anyone using Stata
for
> data processing and report generating like this, where the data
repositories
> are small local databases? Is it foolish not to convert such a system
> entirely to a database program (and move it all away from Stata?)?
>
> 2. On the other hand, I really like Stata's data management capabilities.
> We already process pretty much completely in Stata using *.do files; I am
> tempted to also move the database portions of this project to Stata *.dta
> files (as well as the processing).  Stata's -mmerge-, -merge-, -append-,
and
> -joinby- commands make this attractive to me. Has anyone used *.dta files
as
> a database, or is this foolish and would it be much better to use real
> databases for the data repository?
>
> As far as the questions I raise above, I am interested in opinions from
and
> on the list.
>
> 3. Is there anyone out there on the list who is a consultant who might be
> interested in working on either completely reconstructing what we have
now,
> or renovating it to be more efficient?  It has gotten to be pretty
unwieldy,
> and my colleagues and I would like to "recreate" a system that is more
user
> friendly and did some additional data processing beyond what we are doing
> now.  My bias would be for keeping the data processing in Stata, but we
are
> really looking for whatever might be the best. We'd like to explore this
> with someone who does consulting of this nature, especially a consultant
who
> uses Stata and probably has experience generating reports using Microsoft
> products. I am interested in possibly reporting in LaTex as well, but at
> least initially have a bias for MS platforms for reporting.
>
> I am the creator of what we have now, and would like to keep it linked to
> Stata partly because I am serviceably competent at doing what I need to
> accomplish in Stata.  My programming is far from efficient however, and
the
> update we are considering is more extensive than I really can commit the
> time to.  I'd like to be able to continue to work with the project in the
> future, but it may be best for us to hand it off for revision to someone
who
> does data processing for a living.  If there are consultants on statalist
> who might be interested in discussions about the work and contracting to
do
> such work please contact me off the list. We are exploring possibilities
at
> this point, and would like to hear from anyone who might be interested in
> the work.
>
> Buzz
>
> Buzz Burhans, Ph.D.
>
> Dairy-Tech Group
> Twin Falls, ID
> Phone: 208-320-0829
> Fax: 208-735-1289

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