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HOW TO MANAGE DATA BADLY (PART 1 & 2)
Hale, S S. HOW TO MANAGE DATA BADLY (PART 1 & 2). BULLETIN OF THE ECOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA 80 & 81(4 &1):265-268; 101-103, (1999).
In a landmark article in The American Statistician, Howard Wainer (1994) presented ideas for (a) "How to Display Data Badly," wherein good data are ruined by bad graphics. Wainer presumed too much. In this essay, I extend his concept by presenting ideas and examples of how scientific data can be managed badly so that they never even make it to the graphics stage. Modern data- base management software, continually improving hardware and networks, and many sound recommendations for managing ecological data (e.g., ESA 1995) are making it increasingly difficult to manage data badly. It can still be done, however, and judging by various so-called "horror stories" one hears about adventures with ecological and other scientific databases, is done frequently. Those people still having trouble mismanaging data, whether they are database managers, administrators, or scientist will find the following techniques helpful.
(b) Although managing data badly is difficult, given new developments in hardware and software and many sound recommendations for how to manage ecological data (ESA 1995, NRC 1995), it is still being done. In the spirit of Howard Wainer's (1984) article in THE AMERICAN STATISTICIAN on "How to Display Data Badly," Part I of this essaay gave 10 rules for those database managers and administrators who are determined to manage their data badly. Part 2 gives some tips for scientists with the same objective.