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Research life cycle: 2.Research phase: Use of variables

The importance of clarity regarding variables

Never assume that names of variables mean the same thing to everyone. Make meanings clear and record them in the data management plan or a "readme text file" (a helpsheet for use as an appendix to your research).

Use of variables

Be explicit about:

  • Units of measurement
    e.g.: kg, pounds, km, cm
  • Type of variables
    e.g.: numerical, categorical, textual
  • Definitions
    e.g.: researching smokers
    What is it about: current smokers?, number of cigarettes a day?, number of packets a day?, men?, women?

Example

Never use compound variables when the component variables are available:


   (From: NYU Health Sciences Library's Karen Hanson, Kevin Read, and Alisa Surkis)

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