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How to Organize Your Data

Using Google Drive and Google Sheets to organize data


Since many schools and districts already use Google for Education, Google Drive and Google Sheets can make excellent tools for organizing and storing your data – assuming you are using a district account and have first checked your student data privacy policy. (Note: The process described below would also work with Microsoft Sharepoint or OneDrive and Excel.)

These best practices will help you to gather all of your data files and then organize your data into a database:

  • Create a folder that is accessible to the members of your research team. Make sure that ONLY the people who need access to the data have permission.

  • Store a copy of all raw data files that you export from surveys, assessment platforms, or other data systems such as your student information system or human resources database. This way, if you make a mistake down the road, you can still refer back to the original data source.

  • Have a shared document where you keep track of all procedures as you clean and analyze your data. For example, make note of any items that you rename or data points that you remove.

  • Import all of your data into a Google Sheets workbook and organize it around a common identifier such as a student or teacher ID number.

  • Once you have a single dataset for your analysis, make sure that it is View Only. Encourage your research team to copy that dataset before running any analysis to prevent accidentally editing it.

In addition to Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel, research teams may choose to use other statistical programs such as Tableau, R, or SPSS to analyze data – just make sure to also save files or outputs in your shared folder.