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CRB: Good Research Practices, Part II

A community resource building exercise completed in connection with UA Soc596 with Professor Jennifer Earl
by

R Heavlow

on 11 February 2014

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Transcript of CRB: Good Research Practices, Part II

Establish Good Research Practices
Part II -
How?

STEP 1: PLAN
According to Scott Long, there are several subordinate steps to consider when developing your research plan
USING STATA IN THE PLANNING PHASE
Steps to Creating
a
Successful Workflow
Determine:
goals
of research along with timeline
division of labor
(if collaborative effort)
where
to get data and
how
it will be cleaned and stored
analytic
approach
documentation
needs
From your master plan for datasets

Use
".Do"
files to
create and label variables
code missing data
Create a
Codebook
to keep track of your created variables
STEP 2: ORGANIZE
Remember it is easier to keep track of your projects with a
well-defined
Workflow...
Even if you turn your attention away from your project for months, your system should be able to tell you where you left off.
How you arrange your computer folders
(directory structure)
and how you name your files within those folders

impacts how
efficiently
you work;
improves the
elegance
of your overall research; and
ensures you are providing the correct version of your files to ease
replication
of your work.
(see Part I for more information about replication, efficiency and elegance)
What
NOT
to Do!
Save all your files to your C:\ drive.

Create names/labels that do not reflect what is actually in the file.

Save newer versions of your files over older versions (never know when you may need to go back).
** You'll have a difficult time finding your files and keeping track of what you've already done or what you still need to do.**
Instead, Develop a Structure that Can Grow with You
Add Sub-Levels
for even greater specificity

Budget
Correspondence
Proposal
Codebook
Data
Start with the Directory Name
Project
Article
Research
Class
Add Levels
Administration
Readings
In_Progress
Submitted
Examples: NSF_2013\Administration\Budget\budget_20140122.xls
Smith_ASR_2014\Submitted\Data\analysis_20140125.do
USING STATA IN THE ORGANIZING PHASE
Name your
.dta
,
.do
, and
.log
files within your directory / folder structure in ways that will help you easily identify the proper file to use given your step in the research process.
EXAMPLES
Use file names that begin with
cv_
for created variables files
an_
for analysis files
fv_
for final version of files

Number versions in a way that works for you
(e.g., cv_Masters_01.dta)
STEP 3: DOCUMENT
Long's Law of Documentation
"It is always faster to document it
today
than tomorrow."
(Long 2009: p. 34)
What to Document
Data sources
Decisions Made
Analytic Steps
Software Used
Research Log
Codebook
Create and print a
README.txt
file that contains information about
USING STATA IN THE DOCUMENTING PHASE
Insert
header comments

in your .do files to
provide yourself with as much relevant and helpful information about the .do file as well as the files to which it relates.

Insert
programming comments
in your .do files to
ensure that you and others know what a particular command or set of commands is intended to accomplish
Resources
Long, J. Scott. 2009. The Workflow of Data Analysis Using Stata. College Station, TX: Stata Press
http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/15677/zen-and-the-art-of-file-and-folder-organization/

http://www.wikihow.com/Create-a-Flawless-Filing-System-on-Your-Computer
STEP 4: REVIEW
The goal is to create a workflow that you will stick to and that can grow with you as the quantity and complexity of your projects increase.


If it is not working for you,
CHANGE IT!
Plan
Organize
Document
Review
Full transcript