Try Out New (and Free) Software for Variable Recoding and Harmonization: QuickCharmStats 1.1 and CharmStats Pro 1.0

Guest post by Dr. Kristi Winters, CharmStats Project Manager, GESIS Data Archive for the Social Sciences

Do you have variables to harmonize for statistical analysis or as part of a large scale study’s data preparation and documentation? There are new, free, and open-source software solutions available that can speed the process of variable harmonization as well as preserve variable-, question- and study-level metadata for you. These programs generate harmonization syntax in multiple statistical languages and generate reports or even codebooks to quickly publish your work in a readable format.

The first product is designed for small scale research (under 100 variables to be harmonized) such as publishing an article or producing a report. QuickCharmStats (QCS) was designed to reduce the time and effort researchers spend harmonizing and recoding variables in preparation for statistical analysis. The second product, CharmStats Pro was designed for larger research projects and for national and international research teams to centralize, document and process the harmonization documentation process.

QuickCharmStats

mint-quick-charmstats-javaQuickCharmStats 1.1 (QCS) was designed for researchers who want to quickly and easily create recoding syntax for use in statistical analysis. It allows you to import the necessary metadata information from SPSS and Stat/Transfer. Once the metadata are imported you can search for the variables you need, import them into your project and quickly produce the syntax you need to harmonize variables in SPSS and Stata.

QCS 1.1 has two further features: Reports and Graphs. The report feature allows you to choose from Templates and instantly create an .html file based on the information and metadata in your project. Save your documentation and bibliographical information, your notes with information on your coding decisions, as well as the harmonization syntax. Share your report with others at anytime, anywhere, or to post it online as a reference. The graph feature provides an image of your harmonization.  These can be saved as .jpegs and used in presentations or included as part of your documentation.

CharmStats Pro

charmstats-pro-javaCharmStats Pro is for those large study researchers or survey teams who want to quickly and easily create and preserve the recoding or harmonization syntax as part of a codebook. CharmStats Pro imports the necessary metadata information to document the harmonizations. Once imported, researchers can search for the variables you need, import them into a project and quickly produce syntax(es) to harmonize variables in SPSS and Stata. This version also allows research teams to add reference information for any sources consulted. CharmStats Pro auto-generates the same reports and graphs found in QuickCharmStats 1.1, for all your documentation needs.

CharmStats Pro is unique because it allows for a shared database that connects all the members of a study team. Those who work on large-scale studies or research projects with several staff can now combined and collaborate on their variable harmonization and documentation work.  To facilitate a cooperative digital environment, CharmStats Pro has a communications suite featuring an internal email and task manager system to help teams organize their work.

We believe that after investing a short amount of time learning how to create projects you and your team will save valuable time and effort by digitizing your harmonization work. Learn more on how to get your original documentation work published for citation by reading this open access article on harmonization documentation standards and reporting: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0147795.

To contact us or download the software, please visit http://www.gesis.org/en/services/data-analysis/data-harmonization/.

2nd SERISS Advisory Board Meeting

On March 15 the Review Board of the EU-funded project Synergies for Europe’s Research Infrastructures in the Social Sciences (SERISS) met in London. The project brings together cross-national European survey programs and research infrastructures, the European Social Survey (ESS), the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE ERIC), and the Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA AS) among others.

The major themes addressed by SERISS are

  • Challenges of cross-national data collection
  • Breaking down barriers between infrastructures
  • Embracing the future of the social sciences (specifically, new forms of data, their collection and analysis) (see http://seriss.eu/about-seriss/project-overview/).

SERISS seeks to foster quantitative social research in Europe by providing solutions to challenges along the entire research data lifecycle with a focus on data preparation and data dissemination.

During the second SERISS meeting in London, the work package leaders gave updates on the current status of activities, discussing the ongoing work as well as further opportunities for collaboration.

CESSDA AS is involved in various tasks, e.g. in the development of interactive tools for cross-national surveys, a project management platform in particular, as well as in trainings and dissemination of SERISS outputs. Thus CESSDA Training and its partners will design and deliver face-to-face trainings on research data management and on the software applications that are currently being developed within SERISS. Thereby, we aim to improve research data management as well as data dissemination for secondary use and to spread the benefits of the project within the research community.

In life and in social media, the only constant is change

When we announced the birth of CESSDA Training last year, it was clear that an exciting time lay ahead. Since then, CESSDA has taken important steps to further structure, professionalize and enhance the cooperation between the CESSDA Service Providers, and to enable them work jointly towards strengthening the European research data infrastructure in the social sciences.

An important instrument in this effort is the EU-funded project CESSDA SaW: “Strengthening and widening the European infrastructure for social science data archives”. CESSDA Training is very proud to be involved in this project, and we will use this blog to report about our activities in more detail as the work on the different tasks proceeds.

As part of our involvement we have also decided with the CESSDA Main Office to utilize our Twitter account to keep you updated about CESSDA SaW and other developments happening in CESSDA. To reflect this, we are changing our Twitter handle from @CESSDAtraining to @CESSDA_Data today.

New look! Same great taste! 30% more!

Apart from the handle, we promise that not too much is going to change. We will still tweet about everything related to data management and digital preservation of research data, peppered with a bit of replication and open science, and a good dose of research data infrastructure to round off the flavor!

Cheers! 😉