Course overview

Spring 2011, Mo/We/Fr 10:10AM - 11:00AM, Thurston Hall 202 (Google calendar link). Most Friday classes will be devoted to labs.

Social and economic data drive decisions in public and private organizations, and quality decisions require quality data. This course focuses on data quality—conceptual fit, sampling and nonsampling error, timeliness, geographic detail, and dissemination—as well as legal and ethical issues in the data manufacturing process. Major emphasis is placed on public use microdata files of the U.S. Census Bureau and their role in the allocation of federal funds. These files include the Census of Population and Housing, Current Population Survey, American Housing Survey, Consumer Expenditure Survey, and American Community Survey. The course is appropriate for upper-level undergraduate, professional master’s, and doctoral students who will be users of data products, from the public and private sectors; and/or producers of data products for their organizations, working with existing data products from public and proprietary sources, as well as administrative or survey data collected by their organization.

Core topics include:

  • Basic statistical principles of populations and sampling frames
  • Using data sensibly, including visualizations
  • Acquiring data via samples, censuses, administrative records, and transaction logging
  • Law, economics and statistics of data privacy and confidentiality protection