JData’s validation policy intends to maximize the accuracy of the data housed in the database. The policy is based on a set of steps to identify questionable data; correct or validate such data; and, where necessary, to remove it from the system. The purpose of the policy is to assure that users can rely on the data, analyses, and reports they retrieve from JData.
Definition. Questionable data are data in an organization’s profile form that are practically impossible (e.g., a participant or staff return rate of greater than 100%), inconsistent with other data in the organization’s profile form (e.g., total enrollment less than the sum of enrollment by grade), or improbable based on norms in the field (e.g., costs significantly higher than those of peer organizations).
Causes of questionable error. Some errors are typographical (e.g., inadvertently adding another zero to total budget). Others are caused by misreading an item (e.g., entering tuition per session rather than tuition per week). Still others are caused by missing data in tables (e.g., entering only personnel costs into the expenses table thereby under-reporting total operating expenses). Errors also appear in computed variables (e.g., cost per student) when data for one of the variables in the equation is missing.
Data subject to validation. All data entered into JData’s core profile forms (including deeper drills) are included in JData’s validation efforts. Data entered on custom tabs designed for a community, network, or agency partner are not included in the validation process unless the partner specifically requests that they be included.
Validation period. JData’s profile year runs from September 1 through August 31. Current-year validation is handled on a rolling basis. In order to allow for initial validation, public access to current-year data is not available until January 1.
Validation as part of data collection campaigns. During the validation period associated with each campaign, JData analyzes the data to identify questionable data points (as defined above). Email notifications are sent to schools and camps with such data. The email specifies the data in question and instructs the user to make a correction or to contact JData (firstname.lastname@example.org; 781-736-3941) either to validate or to have the correction made for them. These communications are sent to the person identified in the profile form as the organization’s JData contact. Non-responding schools and camps receive at least one additional reminder about the questionable data in their profile forms before further action is taken.
At the close of the validation period, any remaining questionable data (and data in all associated fields) is moved to the Notes section on the appropriate tab of the organization’s profile. These data are also removed from the database so that they do not appear in any analyses conducted by the school, the Partner, JData, or public users drawing information from JData’s research tool. The school or camp is sent notification of this action along with instructions for correction or validation.
Ad hoc validation. Ad hoc validation efforts apply to questionable data that are brought to JData’s attention from users of the website, from JData’s analyses, and other means unrelated to a campaign. These data are immediately removed from the profile form and database and noted in the appropriate Notes section on the organization’s profile form. An email is sent to the organization’s JData contact person informing him/her of the action taken and providing instructions for validation or correction (as above).
Corrections by JData. Organizations have complete control over their profile forms and, in most cases, JData refrains from making changes to the organization’s data unless so authorized by the organization. There are three exceptions: (1) If the Partner provides the correct value, JData will make the correction in the organization’s profile form and notify the school or camp of this action. (2) If the organization has entered data into the wrong fields, JData will move the data into the correct fields (e.g., an all-boys camp entering enrollment into the girls column) without notifying the organization. (3) JData will remove questionable data (as above) and inform the organization of this action.
Obligation of Partners. Local communities, and national networks and agencies that rely on JData have a vested interest in the completeness and accuracy of the data. JData errs on the side of accuracy and removes questionable data from the database. If questionable data are neither corrected nor validated, Partners’ analyses and reports will be based on partial data. JData requests that the Partner periodically scan the data from its constituent organizations and inform JData of questionable data. The Partner will also support JData's efforts in obtaining corrections or validation from constituent organizations.