Bringing it all together
We hope you have enjoyed Development Research in Practice: The DIME Analytics Data Handbook. Our aim was to teach you to handle data more efficiently, effectively, and ethically. We laid out a complete vision of the tasks of a modern researcher, from planning a project’s data governance to publishing code and data to accompany a research product. We have tried to set the text up as a resource guide so that you will always be able to return to it as your work requires you to become progressively more familiar with each of the topics included in the guide.
We started the book with a discussion of credibility, transparency, and reproducibility in research: an overarching idea that your work should always be accessible and available to others, both within and outside your team. We then discussed the current research work environment, which necessitates cooperation with a diverse group of collaborators using modern approaches to computing technology. We outlined methods for planning your data work and creating basic documentation for data, so that multiple data sources can be linked without error and so that you can map the structure of your data to your research design. We discussed how to implement reproducible routines for sampling and randomization, and to analyze statistical power and use randomization inference.
We detailed modern data acquisition methods and frameworks, including data licensing, data ownership, electronic data collection, and data security. We provided a detailed workflow for data cleaning and processing, emphasizing tidy data, quality control, privacy protection, and documentation. We discuss the creation of derived indicators and analysis outputs, and give an overview of the workflow required to move these results to publication – no matter the format of your work – as well as tools and practices for making this work publicly accessible. Throughout, we emphasized that data work is a “social process”, involving multiple team members with different roles and technical abilities. This mindset and workflow, from top to bottom, outline the tasks and responsibilities that are fundamental to doing credible research.
However, as you probably noticed, the text itself provides just enough detail to get you started: an understanding of the purpose and function of each of the core research steps. The references and resources get into the details of how you will realistically implement these tasks: from DIME Wiki pages detail specific code conventions and field procedures that our team considers best practices, to the theoretical papers that will help you figure out how to handle the unique cases you will undoubtedly encounter. We hope you will keep the book on your desk (or the PDF on your desktop) and come back to it anytime you need more information. We wish you all the best in your work and will love to hear any input you have on ours! You can share your comments and suggestion on this book through https://worldbank.github.io/dime-data-handbook.