Recruiting and training data entry clerks

Aim

To secure accurate data entry by recruiting and training data entry clerks.

 

Requirements

  • Qualification list for recruiting data entry clerks
  • Training protocol including requirements regarding intra- and inter-observer agreement
  • Training sessions according to the training protocol

 

Documentation

  • Qualification list
  • Training protocol

 

Responsibilities

Executing researcher:
  • To set up the qualification list together with the project leader(s);
  • To appoint data entry clerks on the basis of a qualification list, drawn-up prior to recruitment;
  • To check if a confidentiality agreement is signed
  • To train data entry clerks in line with a training protocol, that has been set-up together with the project leader(s) (when new data entry clerks are recruited during the data collection process, it is preferable for these individuals to be trained by the same person who provided the original training);
  • To inspect the data processed by the entry clerks on a regular basis.
Project leaders:
  • To help the executing researcher with putting together the qualification list for the recruitment of the data entry clerks;
  • To ensure the executing researcher appoints data clerks on the basis of this qualification list;
  • To monitor the training provided by the executing researcher;
  • To check with the executing researcher whether he/she inspects the work of the data entry clerk(s).
Research assistant:
  • To accurately process the data in the data entry program by following the protocol;
  • To ask for any help on time when things aren’t clear or when problems occur.

 

How To

Despite the fact that the fields to be entered can be defined within modern data entry programs, it is important that the data are entered as standardized as possible. Conscious data entry can rapidly switch over onto automatic pilot. Therefore, it is important that the data entry clerk(s) continue(s) to work in the same way. To motivate the clerks and let them understand the importance of accurate data entry, it is necessary to provide them with extensive guidelines about the data entry screens and the questionnaires to be entered. Click here for a Dutch example of such a guideline, and here for an English example. Please note that these are examples of a guideline where a specific program (Blaise) was used for the data entry of the questionnaires.
If there are multiple data entry clerks, the mutual differences need to be minimalized. This can be achieved through training and mutual coordination between tasks. When repeated measurements (pre/post or T1/T2/T3) over time are conducted, it is advised to  process these by the same person.
When new data entry clerks are recruited during the data collection process, it is preferable for these individuals to be trained by the same person who provided the original training. New data entry clerks can also be trained by a good data entry clerk, provided that the original trainer is present during these sessions. This allows the trainer to monitor whether the input process corresponds to the original, approved practice.
A good data entry clerk for scientific research needs to have a number of specific qualities. When putting up a requirements list for skills that data entry clerks need to have, someone can think of the following:
  • Experience with data entry
  • Experience with data entry computer programs
  • Experience with data collection in scientific research
  • Has knowledge of, or experience with the research topic
  • Works accurately
  • Asks for help in time, when things aren’t clear or when problems occur
  • Works independently.

 

Appendices/references/links

!Please note that these are examples where a specific program (Blaise) was used for the data entry of the questionnaires!

 

Audit questions

  1. Have all data entry clerks received extensive information?
    1. If so, how and by whom?
    2. If not, why not?
  2. Are multiple data entry clerks?
    1. If so, which measures have been taken to reduce mutual variation?
  3. Are repeated measurements (pre/post or T1/T2/T3) conducted?
    1. If so, will these measurements be processed by the same data entry clerk?
  4. Have new data entry clerks been recruited during the project?
    1. If so, who trained these data entry clerks?
  5. Is the training of the assistants documented?

V3.1: 20 Jan 2017: English translation background information entry clerks added
V3.0: 13 Oct 2016: Revision guideline
V2.0: 12 May 2015: Revision format
V1.1: 1 Jan 2010: English translation
V1.0: 21 April 2004