Good data file manners

As I’ve just put the undergrad projects to bed for another year I have had the inevitable situation that does annoy me (yes, another one!).

I ask students to provide me with an Excel file with their data, converted to %, conditions split up, and in a form that I can read (i.e., it may need a key). Do I get that? Not a hell’s chance.

I get SPSS data files filled with 1’s and 2’s that mean bugger all to me that aren’t even compatible with my version of SPSS.

I said Excel file… eventually appears with, basically, the data from SPSS cut and pasted into it. Conditions are all mixed up. Random variables are included which I don’t have a scoobie what they are.

My problem is that I get sent files like this by the truckload across the year. Do I look like I have either the time or the patience to sit and decode them?

Last week I got sent an Excel file (yah!) with over 5,000 rows of data and about 30 columns. From what I could decode, none of it was the summary that I was looking for.

So, students, think about your supervisor for a moment. Are they a 21 year old undergrad? No, they don’t think like you. “gnr” may, naturally, mean gender to you, it doesn’t to your supervisor. They don’t have time to decode your file. They aren’t interested in how each and every participants responded to each and every question in the BDI.


We want summary data, converted if necessary into % (we won’t ask for proportion as we know you’ve only just worked out how to calculate %). Each p’s mean score on a task, conditions clearly divided, with age and gender. We want to, basically, be able to go to Formula and calculate the mean for each column.

It’s good data file etiquette!


Am I talking out of my ass?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s