MANTRA – Gitit Kadar Satat – Importance of documentation and metadata

MANTRA – Gitit Kadar Satat – Importance of documentation and metadata


There is an issue within the
social sciences about replicating… results of studies that are
being carried out. Maybe this is wider than
just the social sciences,… because in research you would like
to enable other researchers… to understand and to follow your
work, to carry out additional… improvements to your work
once you are done,… and also to, perhaps, check whether what
you have done is adequate… and at the highest level that
can be reached. And I think that nowadays with the
software that we have,… and with the data management tools
that we have,… and that some of them are provided by
the universities… some you can download,
free sometimes even. But these tools actually provide
researchers nowadays with a… great opportunity to hold track,
or to keep track of… all of the procedures that they
carry out through their analyses. And it is just as important to
know how to use them… and to really use them
throughout the work… in order to enable other researchers… to then be able to look at your work,… to check it if they would like to… and, more importantly even, to continue
from the point that you… reached and carry this work even further. And, I actually spend a lot of time… in order to document my work,… not just because I would like to make it… possible for researchers in the future
to look at it and to… maybe continue the thread of work
that I’m carrying out,… but also for my own purposes. Because,… as I’m sure many of you know,… doing a PhD is something that takes
at least three years… and it is something that evolves within
time. Sometimes you would… like in your second year to go back and look,… look at things that you were doing in
your first year, and to revise them or… to understand what you have done. So it’s very, very important, I guess,
to keep track… and to always make notes of the
things that you carried out… of the procedures, the analytical procedures
that you carried out, and you can… do them with the software that… are provided now – that are available nowadays. Also, not just to keep track of what… procedures you were executing, but also
why you have executed this… specific analytical procedure. Because when you are actually doing
the research and you are… very much invested in the
data analysis phase,… you know exactly why you are doing this.
It’s very clear in your mind,… it’s very vivid. You do it… every day for hours a day. But, after several months when
you’ve moved on,… it wouldn’t necessarily be as
fresh as it was. So, sometimes you may… even forget why exactly you
used this method. It’s very important when you’re going
back to the documentation that… you yourself created,… to be able to find there the reason
why you have used this procedure,… for what purposes,… and to revise it and to understand whether
this is something that you would like… now to use as well, or you would
like to change it and… to use other methodic
or analytical procedures. So in a way, I think this is part of
doing the PhD,… also to be responsible for how
you document your own work,… for yourself and for others. Specifically in my case, I do invest a lot of time
and energy in this part of my studies,… and I guess that if someone… would like now to replicate my work, then
all this person would have to .. access is the files that I created
because, of course,… when I first started I downloaded the
data files from the archive. But then I just started to modify them
in the merge files and create… new variables out of the ones that
were already there. So my dataset now is nowhere similar to the one
that I started with. So, this person who… would like to replicate my
work would have to… get these files, which I am happy
to provide of course, there’s nothing there that should… be under a specific licence – it’s all… free for public and academic use. This person would also have to gain access to
the syntax files that I created. Again, I don’t see this as any…
there are no problems there. Someone who gets these files can
immediately just… run them over and have the result that I… created or I produced. And, of course, the thesis itself would
provide a person that… would like to replicate my work with the
theoretical considerations that are actually… behind all of this analytical work,
because of course the analytical work… that I carried out is based on
a theoretical framework. So, I don’t think that just taking
the dataset and the syntax… and running over it would really
provide you with much. You would also have to look at the
theoretical background from… which these analytical procedures… were carried out or were influenced.

Daniel Ostrander

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