Editing of data refers to scrutiny or careful checking of the data collected from various sources. Before the data are used for analysis, it is highly necessary that they should be properly edited by the experts, else, there might remain certain errors and irregularities with the data, which in turn may lead to fallacious conclusions. Therefore, both the types of primary and secondary data should be properly edited before they are put to any by the investigators.
Editing of Primary Data
The primary data which are collected for the first time from their sources of origin are in the form of raw materials and are prone to many defects, viz. inaccuracy, inadequacy, incompleteness, inconsistency, and heterogeneity. Thus, they should be very carefully edited in the light of the following considerations:
While editing, it must be seen that the data collected are accurate in all respects i.e. both factually and arithmetically lest the findings derived therefrom should be incorrect and misleading. However, arithmetical errors could be detected and corrected easily but it is very difficult to detect the factual errors i.e. wrong and informations supplied by the informants on any matter e.g. age, illegal income, etc.
While editing, it must be seen that the data supplied by the informants are not inconsistent, or contradicting with each other. For example, if the answer to a question is ‘graduate’ and the answer to another question on the type of faculty is “I don’t know”, then there is inconsistency in the data. In such cases the editor should try to get the correct answers either by referring back to the questionnaire, or by contacting the informant in person, else it would result in inconsistent findings.
While editing, it must be seen the data collected are adequate for the purpose of the investigation. Adequacy refers to quantity just required, neither more nor less. Too much of data may lead to confusion while less of it may not give the complete picture of the phenomenon. Hence, the editor should try to size up the data in accordance with the purpose of the enquiry.
While editing, it must be seen that the answers given by the informants are complete in all respects i.e. answer to each and every part of the questionnaire has been furnished without any reservation or omission. If, any question of paramount importance has not been answered completely, the editor must take necessary steps to obtain that answer again from the informant concerned either by personal contact, or through correspondence. If, it is found impossible to collect such information, the said questionnaire should be dropped or a remark ‘No Answer’ or ‘Not Available’ (NA) should be put against the particular question.
While editing the primary data, it must be seen that the answers obtained for a particular question are of homogenous nature. Homogeneity refers to equality, or sameness in the sense of taking a thing. For example, the answer to a question on ‘wage’ should be given by all informants in the particular sense in which it has been defined in the questionnaire. Instead, if some one gives the answer in the sense of money wage, some other in the sense of skilled wage, and some other in the sense of unskilled wage, the answers would become heterogeneous. In such cases, the findings of the enquiry would be fallacious and misleading. Hence, the editor should rectify such discrepancies, if possible by referring back to the informants.