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Data Verification

Once you have gathered your data, it is important to verify them before proceeding with analysis. Errors can occur at both the data gathering stage and the data entry stage.

At the data gathering stage, you should institute data checks whenever possible. Proper supervision of field work is essential as otherwise the many difficulties experienced by your staff in the field will be reflected in the quality of your data. You should also get to know the common types of error. Ensure your staff can read scales accurately, whether on a tape measure or a thermometer.

When it comes to data entry, if you are using a calculator you should always carry out each calculation twice. You should only proceed to the next step if you get the same answer the second time. If you or a staff member have entered data on the computer, you must check these data before proceeding. This is still necessary even if your computer software has built in checks to prevent values outside a certain range being entered. Such software only detects data points that are very wrong; it does not ensure your data are correct!

We look at methods of data verification in more detail in Unit 2.