When the researcher collects the data it is in raw form and it needs to be edited, organized and analyzed. The raw data needs to be transformed into a comprehensible form of data. The first steps in this process are to edit the data. The edited data is then coded and inferences are drawn. The editing of the data is not a complex task but it requires an experienced, talented and knowledgeable person to do so.
The purpose of data editing
With editing the data the researcher makes sure that all responses are now very clear to understand. Bringing clarity is important otherwise the researcher can draw wrong inferences from the data. Sometimes the respondents make some spelling and grammatical mistakes the editor needs to correct them. The respondents might not be able to express their opinion in proper wording. The editor can rephrase the response, but he needs to be very careful in doing so. Any bias can be introduced by taking the wrong meanings of the respondents point of view.
The editor may also need to make some omissions in the responses. By chance or by some mistake some responses are left incomplete, the editor has to see what has been an oversight by the respondent.
It depends on the target population how well you get the questionnaires filled. An educated respondent will fill the questionnaire in a better manner than a person who is not very educated. It also depends on how much interested the respondent is in filling the questionnaire. Sometimes the respondents are very reluctant to fill it out. In case, you think that your respondents are not very much interested, you should take an interview rather than submitting a questionnaire. In the questionnaire, the respondents will leave blank spaces and you might get “noreponse”. On the other hand, in an interview you can better assess what they want to tell and what they are trying to hide.
Avoid biased editing
The editor has a great responsibility to edit the surveyed data or other form of responses. The editor needs to be very objective and should not try to hide or remove any information. He should not add anything in the responses without any sound reason. He should have to be confident in making any changes or corrections in the data. In short, he should make least changes and only logical changes. He should not add anything that shows his opinion on the issue.
Sometimes the respondents leave something incomplete, to complete the sentence or a phrase the editor has to make a judgement. He should have to have good judgement to do so. He should do it so well that his personal bias do not involve in the responses.
Handwriting issues needs also be resolved by the editor. Some people write very fast and in this way they write so that comprehension of the text becomes difficult. In electronically sent questionnaires this problem never arises.
Logical adjustments must be made or otherwise the data will become faulty. There might be need for some logical corrections, for example, a respondent gives these three answers to the three questions that have been asked form him;
#1: What is your age?
Ans: 16 years
#2: What is your academic qualification?
#3: What academic qualifications you want to achieve in the future?
Ans: Bachelors in fine arts
Looking at the answers he has provided, he could not be 16 years of age and done with bachelors degree. By looking at other answers he has provided you can guess his age. If he is 16 years of age then he could not be done with bachelors and you can guess in which class he will be. In case, it is possible to contact with the respondent you can ask him about these answers. You can make logical changes in these answers because it is clearly evident that 16-year boy or girl could not be in bachelors. He might got confused between the two questions and give wrong response. Such corrections are pretty easy to make but there can be some other responses that are tricky and clearly wrong. The editor must have knowledge how to correct the answers and what to do in such situation.
Recontact the respondent
If some information is least comprehendible and no logical meaning can be taken, interviewees can be re-contacted to know what they meant by that. In case, the data in the questionnaire is not correct and the editor cannot take any meaning from it. The editor should ask the respondents, recontact with them and get their help.
In recent years, most of the researchers prefer to submit electronic questionnaires wherever it is possible. Electronically sent questionnaires are easy to edit, because in the electronic questionnaire you can set some parameters. The computer can edit the questionnaire itself and the job of the editor becomes easy. You can avoid inconsistencies in the electronic questionnaire. The logical errors can be completely avoided. No response answers are few in electronic questionnaires.
The qualities of the data editor
The data editor should have three qualities; he should have to be Intelligent, objective and experienced in editing the data. He should know that how important is the handling of data to the researcher. He should try to avoid the slightest chances of bias, which means that he should also be honest with his work. His data editing will play a major role on the final inferences that the researcher will draw from the data.