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Jay Belsky

Centralize Data Management

Posted on December 4, 2007

Jay Belsky (bio) stresses the importance of ceding local control of data to a core team during the NICHD Study of Early Child Care.


The other thing we did [during the NICHD Study of Early Child Care] that’s really important is we centralized a lot. So for example I remember when we first got started. We ended up coding over 1,000 strange situation video tapes, 1,300, and that was in 15 months. We did it again at 36 months. That’s another 1,500. Then when kids were 6, 15, 24 and 36 months we videotaped parent/child interaction. That was over 1,000 video tapes. And the discussion was, “How are we going to do this?”

People had to surrender their desire to be in control of their own data and be the coders of their own data. What we eventually moved toward - actually it wasn't eventually, we moved to this right away because it was the only thing that was going to work - was this site became the coding site for this protocol. So all 1,000 tapes of that procedure went to that site.

Three people were trained to code then they got reliability at that site, and they code all 1,000 tapes. Now that’s a huge job, but it’s much less of a job than getting three people or two people training in reliability at 10 different sites, each coding their own tapes and then never really being sure how much consistency there was. So again there’s this issue of becoming an industrial and a bureaucratic organization by necessity.

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Excerpted from interview with researcher at the 2007 SRCD Biennial Meeting in Boston, MA.

NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development


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