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Demographic Data

Guidelines for Knowing Your Data

Your task is to write a few paragraphs describing the data you will use for your project. Here are some questions you would be able to answer about your data in order to write an exemplary description.


What is the title of the dataset?

Who created it (e.g. primary investigator or agency)?

Is it civil registration data, census data, or survey data?

How was it collected?

When was it collected?

Who is included? Who is excluded?

Do you know of other datasets that measure the same or similar phenomena? How are the data you are using different? How are they a better fit to your research interest than the other data? (Hint: this may have to do with access).


Which variables will you be using for your analysis?

If you are using a survey, what was the question text for the most important variables?

If you are using data that do not have a corresponding questionnaire, how are the variables defined in the documentation?

Will you use a subset of the whole dataset? If so, how will this effect the size of your sample? (e.g., you may want to look at the characteristics of women of child-bearing age but are using a survey of men, women and children).

Do your variables apply to all cases? If not, what using this variable do to your sample size?


In what format are the data in? What are the file types? (e.g., .xls, .por, ASCII)

Do you know how to open these files and read them into Excel? If not, contact Peter or Kristin right away.

Data Sources in the Literature

From the very beginning of researching your topic, you will want to track potential data sources. You might want to keep a grid like the one below to track the various sources as you encounter them.


Citation Topic Data Used Data Type Notes (access, applicability to your topic, etc.)
article #1
article #2

Example Data Descriptions

Additional Information