Data processing tips

Data processing tips

Data processing tips


Questionnaires can be distributed digitally, but in certain situations, you make it easier for your respondents when they can fill it out on the spot on paper. Next, the data needs to be entered. Here are seven tips:

  1. Use a program that you know to fit your needs. For example, in excel, you can easily organize data and sort it in  different ways. For questionnaires, this may be sufficient. If you need to make more complicated calculations, SPSS may be a solution.
  2. Create an encoding for processing questionnaires (e.g., no = 0 yes = 1). This ensures that answers are understood without misinterpretation, while the input is less prone to typing errors. Encoding also makes it easier to calculate the data collected (in this example, an average of 0.75 means 75% of the respondents said yes).
  3. Create a notable encoding for skipped questions, e.g., -1. With that, you will know it was not an error on the participant's part, and unique or remarkable scores can easily be left out of the formula.
  4. Give each questionnaire/respondent a unique number. This practice allows you to anonymize the data, yet you can still find the corresponding questionnaire.
  5. Provide clear instructions for the data entry crew so that everyone works according to the same protocol. Whenever possible, have the data entry done by one person; this ensures that it will always be done in the same way. Note: If, however, the input operator has to evaluate data, then multiple people should be tasked with this.
  6. Start the data entering timely to ensure a manageable process. Processing it in small segments will help you concentrate better (and fewer mistakes will be made).
  7. Perform random checks. Correct accordingly. If errors keep occurring in the same place, take action on them. Realize that to err is human.