Documenting Data in Practice

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Creating Templates

  1. Amend the template archive log we offered above in a way that will make it more useful for your project, or create a template for “informal documentation” for a form of interactive data collection in which you are engaging or will engage. Make sure to think hard about what information particular to your project you want to systematically collect. Then choose one of the options below:
    • If you are working independently, consider whether, realistically, you will use your template – is it so complicated that you are unlikely to stick with it? Also, imagine yourself six to nine months in the future trying to remember the data-collection context. What is your template missing that would help you re-conjure that context?
    • If you are taking this course at the same time as someone else whom you know, exchange templates, and critique each other’s. What do you find particularly valuable / useful about your partner’s template? What is missing? What is extraneous?
  • show solution
    1. There is no “solution” to this exercise. As you look at your (or your partner’s) templates, consider the following: (1) will it be easy to use during your research? (2) will you be able to find relevant information quickly and easily? (3) will the information in your template help someone else to understand your data? (4) what other criteria are important?

      Sample solution

      • I will use a Google Sheet for this instead of an Excel spreadsheet so I can easily show it to my dissertation advisors. I plan to add three columns to the template. - In the particular archive in which I’m working different rooms (which include different types of materials) have different names – so I’m going to add a column for “room name”. - Another observation I had is that some collections are far more organized than others. I need to think about why, but I will add a column for “degree of collection organization” so I can keep track of this. - OK, this is a bit weird, but I’ve noticed that records from April-May 1997 seem to be missing from a lot of the collections – but not from all of them. Again, I don’t know why, but this has attracted my attention. So I’m going to add a column for “April-May 1997 missing from collection?” so I can keep track of this. - While I’ve now made my template a bit more complicated, I’m still confident that I’ll use it (I’m a complicated person). Right now I also can’t