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Re: st: encode

From   Sarah Mustillo <[email protected]>
To   [email protected]
Subject   Re: st: encode
Date   Sat, 22 Jan 2005 14:49:14 -0500

Svend -

I couldn't agree more. This dataset I am working with is a federal dataset and they intended to do it the way you suggested. The text reponses I am trying to code are from an "other" category of a child custody variable, but it turns out about 80% of the responses could have been coded in the meaningful categories. This, to me, points to poor interviewer training, rather than poor design. It's a nice reminder that care on the front end of a project leads to ease on the back end, and sloppiness on the front end leads to many headaches on the back end!


Svend Juul wrote:

It seems that Sarah's technical problem has been resolved. But it leads me to a more general remark about the handling of text responses.
If you are working with questionnaires with text responses it is smarter to code responses before entering the data. You might have a prior idea of which categories are interesting, or you may write down a list of responses for a sample of 100 questionnaires, organize the list, and decide the coding categories. Next, write the numerical code on each questionnaire. Enter the numerical code, not the text, in the computer. This step is important because: 1) Few human brains are good at combining decisions (coding) with routine tasks (data entry); it slows down the process and you make errors. 2) If your data are important and you want to enter data twice to avoid errors, you will get a mess if responses are not coded before data entry.
I recall a dataset where the investigator for some reason wanted the record not only the smoking habits, but also the brand of cigarettes smoked; it was entered as text. It turned out that Danish women can spell Marlboro in 163 different ways (was my spelling correct?), and the recoding to something meaningful was quite a task.
Just some general thoughts; obviously Sarah can't use them for her current problem.
________________________________________________________ Svend Juul
Institut for Folkesundhed, Afdeling for Epidemiologi
(Institute of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology)
Vennelyst Boulevard 6 DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark Phone, work: +45 8942 6090 Phone, home: +45 8693 7796 Fax: +45 8613 1580 E-mail: [email protected] _________________________________________________________
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Sarah A. Mustillo, Ph.D
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University School of Medicine
Box 3454
Durham NC 27710

919 687-4686 x231
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