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Making the best of existing tools for enhancing documentation

Presenter 1
Andreas Perret
FORS

Using commonly available tools, shareware and standard office solutions, FORS has created detailed codebooks describing public statistics and set-up a multi-lingual portal. The tools needed are mostly known and available to the research community, starting with statistical packages such as SPSS; the editing platform provided by NESSTAR complemented with the open-source Microdata management toolkit by the IHSN; and combined with the functionalities of spreadsheet applications such as Excel -- everything needed to publish data, even XML handling, is provided. Our presentation aims to show that high quality standards are not in contradiction with modest resources. Once the needs of the researchers are well understood, a little tweaking of existing tools allows huge improvements to visual efficiency and user-friendliness. As the skills needed lay far below the level of trained IT specialists, there is no absolute need to wait for the industry to come up with new software; competent and creative social scientists with more modest aims is all it takes.

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