Down to the Details: Data Coding Scheme Development

Data quality, or "fitness for use," can be compromised if the data include duplicates, unnecessary variations, misspellings or omissions.  Data coding, the process of organizing data in preparation for analysis, is a key step to ensure data quality.  When data are categorized in a standard, consistent way, they are more easily aggregated for use in creating reports and making comparisons across facilities, districts and countries.

Oftentimes, countries have previously collected data that can be used as the basis for a data coding scheme.  Careful attention should be paid to the included values in order to make sure that they are complete, clear and appropriate for use.  Cutting and pasting lists of variables may seem like a quick fix, especially when presented with strong enthusiasm to begin data entry.  Nevertheless, taking the time to create a strong data coding scheme before beginning data entry will help reduce data entry errors and will be more time efficient and less expensive down the road.

We have outlined some specific steps to refine previously collected data during the data coding scheme development process.  These steps can be found on our HRIS Strengthening Knowledge Base.