To create a data file, the best approach may be determined by the analytical tool one plans to use. If the intent is to filter, sort, and count, the data may be directly entered into a spreadsheet.
Some databases and statistical software packages have data entry functions or add-ons that can be used. Database packages often have components to make data entry easier, some have simple reporting functions, Filemaker or MS Access, or the database can then be exported for analysis using a different tool.
Data can also be entered into a text file that can be read by a statistical package, e.g. using Notepad on PC / TextEdit or TextWrangler on Mac.
One of the most flexible options is to enter the data into a spreadsheet where each row represents a question (or question option, in the case of a "check all that apply" item), and each column represents a respondent. This format can be imported or read directly by many other packages, or the file can be saved as a .txt file.
The selection of a data analysis tool depends on the purpose of the report and the kinds of analyzation needed. Simple descriptive summaries can be accomplished with a number of packages, but more sophisticated statistics will require a statistical software package.
Microsoft Excel is a great choice for getting started. This electronic spreadsheet program allows users to enter, store, organize, and manipulate date. It can also be used to create charts, pivot tables, and for financial analysis.
TJC currently provides access to COGNOS Analytics, which is an excellent interactive data analysis program. Data reports are setup to automatically refresh and publish to COGNOS or Excel extracts, so the most current information is available.
Other features of COGNOS that will soon be implemented to help analyze data are dashboards and visualizations.
Because these packages are supported by OTS, we recommend checking for availability for departmental use and requesting access from OTS with supervisor approval.