How Do Scientists Organize Data?

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According to Unite for Sight, scientists organize research data through a process of coding and naming. Researchers often use statistical software or database programs to store data and create files. Scientists must organize data before data analysis begins.

Scientists take raw data from an experiment, observation or other research method and assign each piece of information as a variable. According to the University of California at Riverside, the way in which a scientist codes a variable depends upon the type of variable. A binary variable receives either a code of zero or one, while continuous variables receive a code number up to the possibilities of options in the study. The type of variable informs the statistical test that the scientist uses. Even some qualitative studies use coding to organize data into categories. Within the statistical software, each variable receives a unique name to make it easier for scientists to run statistical tests or find data for a particular response.

According to Boston University's Research Data Management, the data from each study needs a file name for further organization. Scientists input data and begin organization in a computer program as soon as scientists capture the first piece of data. The development of a standard code sheet improves consistency of data organization.