Information Services

New Data Analysis and Visualisation Service

The Data Library now has an SDA server (Survey Documentation and Analysis), and is ready to load numeric data files for access by either University of Edinburgh users only, or ‘the world’. Data Library staff are eager to assist teachers in making teaching datasets available, or to help create and deliver hands-on learning exercises for groups of students.

For researchers SDA provides an interactive interface allowing basic statistical analysis, primarily for microdata, with nothing more sophisticated than a standard web browser. No whisker plots or stem-and-leaf plots, but you can generate cross-tabulations, comparison of means, correlations, and multiple regressions, with all the usual measures of significance etc. Recoding and/or computing new variables can be performed on the fly or for reuse/sharing. SDA allows you to quickly determine whether a particular dataset will be useful for your analyses. Complex sample designs can be defined so as to produce complex standard errors. Basic graphics capabilities are also available. Download user-defined subsets or whole datafiles with SAS, SPSS, or Stata syntax files for further analysis on your platform of choice.

For teachers, SDA can be used to teach statistics, without having to teach syntax. It will support most statistical techniques taught in the first year or two of applied statistics. Data are weighted by default, if applicable, but weighting can be turned off as needed. No need for expensive statistical packages, or long learning curves. SDA provides context-sensitive online help, and is an excellent tool for teaching statistics, whether in the classroom or via distance education. SDA has been awarded the American Political Science Association (APSA) Best Instructional Software.

For data producers concerned about disclosure control, SDA provides the capability of defining usage restrictions on a variable-by-variable basis. For example, restrictions on minimum cell sizes (weighted or unweighted), use of particular variables without being collapsed (recoded), or restrictions on particular bi- or multivariate combinations.

For data managers and those concerned about data preservation, SDA can be used to store data file(s) in a generic, non-software dependant format (fixed-field format ASCII), and includes capability of producing the accompanying metadata in the emerging DDI-standard XML format.

Data Library staff can mount data files very quickly if they are well documented with appropriate metadata formats (eg SAS or SPSS), depending on access restrictions appertaining to the datafile. To request a datafile be made available in SDA, contact