Data Collection and Analysis
Regardless of whether you collect your data electronically or the old-fashioned way eventually the information will need to be entered into a database of sorts. There are a few generally accepted methods:
Microsoft Excel provides a great foundation for storing your data. Creating data tables is a bit restrictive in Office 2003 (Office 2004 on the Mac) as it restricts the number of columns to 256. However with Office 2007 (Office 2008 on the Mac) Excel has a max column number of 16,384.
Since it is included in most Microsoft Office packages Access may be the most popular approach for storing your research data. Access will allow you to create robust databases with the ability to pull data using queries. You can use different data entry forms (perhaps matched to your surveys) while allowing all the information to be stored in a single data table. While Access doesn't have much statistical capability, you can generate reports that could be used to double check data entry or other quality measures.
The CTSC has made available a secure, web based application for capturing research data. REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is provided at no cost for research use. Data is stored with REDCap using secure web authorization and data logging. Plus, you can input your data from any computer.
There are many options when it comes time to analyze your data. For complicated statistics you should seek out a qualified statistician. However for basic data analysis the following software programs can help you prove your hypothesis.
SPSS is a commonly used statistical software package. Many colleges and universities offer classes that utilize SPSS in teaching data analysis and faculty and students maybe be able to purchase it at a reduced cost. There is a free trial available at the SPSS web site and check out Andy Chang's Guide for SPSS for Windows.
JMP is a statistical software package by the makers of SAS. JMP will help you easily analyze your data and generate charts and graphs to visualize the results. To see if JMP is right for you there is a free 30-day trial or check out this video of a demonstration using JMP to see if it fits your needs.
R is a free statistical package built on the S language. Because R utilizes a command line interface (some graphical interfaces are available) there is a bit of a learning curve. However, R is widely used and the low adoption cost makes it a good choice for many organizations.
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