How to approach a dataset - Part 1: Database design

Publication language
Date published
01 Aug 2013
How-to / Tutorial / Tips
Offline databases

In an ideal world, a rapid onset disaster would be the instigating event for an equally rapid deployment of a skilled assessment team, with sufficient resources at their disposal to quickly conduct a rapid multi-sector needs assessment capable of guiding decision making. This team might be comprised of an assessment coordinator, an information manager/analyst, sectoral specialists and an IT specialist.

In the potential absence of an information manager/data analyst, this technical note provides guidance in how to set up a simple database suitable for storing small amounts of data as may be generated by a rapid assessment with relatively small sample sizes. It is aimed at supporting non-specialists in information management with a working knowledge of spreadsheet applications to set up a suitable structure rapidly which will support analysis. The document uses an example questionnaire and database used for the Joint Rapid Assessment for Northern Syria (JRANS).

Database design should be undertaken at the same time as designing your data collection tools, methodology and analysis approach – therefore it is recommended that this note is first quickly read in full at the start of the assessment design process, before undertaking any of the steps within.

Analysis planning, data collection tool design and data cleaning are covered in less detail; This note needs to be read in conjunction with the technical note How to Approach a Dataset Part 2: Data Preparation, and How to Approach a Dataset Part 3: Analysis (see below)