Saturday, May 1, 2004

Recent Training in Ontario on Data & Statistical Reference

Three presentations at the Orientation for new DLI Contacts, which was held in conjunction with the Ontario DLI Training Workshop at Queen's University on April 5, 2004, addressed different aspects of reference for data and statistics. First, Chuck Humphrey outlined two conceptual frameworks that offer a vocabulary useful in describing the resources in this area. The first framework divides statistics and data into separate categories of statistical information. This model can be helpful in identifying statistical information products. The second model presents a way of thinking about the different dissemination channels used by Statistics Canada in providing access to its statistical information resources.

Secondly, Laine Ruus, in her discussion about the DLI Tool Kit, spoke about methods for finding the right data. She reviewed the elements important in the data reference interview, including the:

  • Geographic area to be covered

  • Smallest geographic area to be described

  • Time period

  • Population (unit of observation) to be described

  • Subject matter (variables), in terms that can be expressed in numbers

  • Objective: what the user intends/needs to do with the numbers

  • What software the user intends to use?

  • How would the user like the data delivered?

She also described tools useful in finding aggregate data and microdata from Statistics Canada and summarized the information required to locate specific data products:

  • Title of the data set/data file

  • The appropriate subfile (physical file)

  • Are aggregate data/anonymized microdata disseminated?

  • Who disseminates the data; who has a copy?

  • Under what conditions are they disseminated?

  • How much do the data cost?

  • What format are they in? What metadata comes with them?

Third, Vince Gray spoke about handling reference questions. He circulated an updated copy of a handout produced by Elizabeth Hamilton entitled, The DLI Reference Shelf. This annotated bibliography provides a helpful list of reference tools for locating and using Statistics Canada products. In his presentation, Vince reminded everyone that the degree of reference service one provides is dependent on the overall level of service that your institution offers. He then discussed questions helpful in the reference interview:

  • Why does the patron need data?

  • What type of data does the patron need?

  • What is the patron looking for?

  • What geographic area(s) does the patron need?

  • What time period does the patron want?

After discerning the patron's needs, Vince presented several approaches for locating a source that the patron might find helpful.

Copies of Powerpoint files for these presentations and a Word document of Elizabeth's pathfinder are available on the Ontario's DLI workshop website.

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