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Re: st: RE: replying to lists / keeping records: New - proposal for data documentation

From   Neil Shephard <>
Subject   Re: st: RE: replying to lists / keeping records: New - proposal for data documentation
Date   Fri, 28 Nov 2008 11:27:51 +0000

Allan Reese (Cefas) wrote:
> A suggestion from myself and colleagues is therefore a much simpler
> "standard" for documenting data so that it is human-usable.  It may also
> be immediately compatible between computers, but that depends on the
> file format and character coding conventions, etc.  Most data can be
> reduced to a 2-way table (or sequence of linked tables).  We therefore
> propose that a data table (think Stata dataset) should be documented
> with a second table that describes the fields (=columns=variables) as a
> Codebook, and a third table containing the discovery metadata as defined
> in ISO standards.  It's very simple, not technical, but would promote
> more computer users to notice concepts like missing values and
> procedures used when coding.
Theres no real need for a secondary table describing columns and variables.

The beauty of Stata data files (if used correctly, which many of my
predecessors at my current place of work haven't done, grrr) is to use
the various -label- commands to describe the -label variables-, -label
data--, -label define/values- so the code-book is tied in with the data

More verbose comments can be attached to the data or variables
themselves with the -notes- command.

It should be habit to define these when importing and tidying data and
is good practice for reproducible research.


"We should make things as simple as possible, but not simpler" - Anon (not Albert Einstein)

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