How does your archive prepare a data collection for public release?

Our staff have established a series of steps for acquiring and archiving each new data set. In particular, each study is assessed to determine if any issues of respondent confidentiality exist and checks are made for problems arising from either direct or indirect identification. In addition, the technical characteristics of the documentation are verified against the data to assure that the data and documentation match. For intensively processed studies, all variables are examined to assure that each is thoroughly identified and labeled. When variables are not thoroughly described, our staff consults the documentation and/or questionnaires. In some cases it may be necessary to contact the principal investigator(s) to remedy any problems uncovered during the review of the data. Data definition statements for SPSS and SAS are prepared for all data sets and value labels are often added when they are not part of the files as we received them. After the initial processing is completed, further quality checks are made. For example, the observed frequencies are verified against the reported frequencies and sometimes checks are made for consistency of survey responses and skip patterns. Data files are also reformatted to the smallest possible size for optimum speed in file transfer over the Internet.

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