Mariano Sana and Alexander A. Weinreb Insiders, Outsiders, and the Editing of Inconsistent Survey Data Sociological Methods & Research 2008 36: 515-541.

Data editing, a crucial task in the data production process, has received little scientific attention. Consequently, there is no consensus among social scientists about how data should be edited or by whom. While some argue that it should be left to data managers and data users, others claim that it is primarily a task for fieldworkers. The authors review these divergent approaches to editing and evaluate the underlying theoretical arguments. Results are reported from a methodological experiment in which different types of actors who are party to the data production and research process were asked to solve artificially generated inconsistencies in real survey data. Results are informative on two counts. First, the least accurate editors were the researchers with no field experience in the survey sites. Second, when provided with only partial information on which to make editing decisions, fieldworkers edited more accurately than both data managers and data users.

Key Words: data editing • data collection • data inconsistencies • insiders • fieldwork

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