Automatically update your trackers with new waves of survey data
Updating a tracking study can be an incredibly painful process. A minor change — an added brand, a reworded question, an altered label — can derail the entire tracker. But not anymore. Q automatically updates your project and flags potential issues before they cause any problems.
These instructions assume that your latest data file contains all prior waves of data. However, if you only have a file of your latest wave, start by merging your data files together.
To update your tracker, follow these three simple steps.
Step 1: Updating your analysis with a new wave of data
Any Q project can be automatically updated with new data. This can be done by selecting File > Data Sets > Update and then selecting your updated data set.
It is strongly advised that you use a .sav file in your tracking study, but Q is also able to handle other file formats.
Step 2: Checking data quality
After updating your data set, Q will alert you with a Data Difference Warning dialog if there are any changes to the questions or variables in your latest file. This will notify you of three things:
- Question: The name of the question where the differences exist.
- Variable: The variable within the question where the differences exist.
- History: A summary of the differences between the two data sets.
When you click Accept, the new data set will be imported and Q will alert you of the differences in the Variables and Questions Tab. The Remind Me Later option imports the new data and will remind you of the differences the next time you open the project.
If the changes are unexpected or problematic, close the dialog box and ask your data provider for a new file.
TIP: If you want a record of the differences, simply copy the text from the Data Difference Warning box and paste it into excel.
Step 3: Fixing errors and resolving issues
Once you have updated your data set, click on the Variables and Questions tab to view your new variable list. The variables added in the last data wave will be marked as New, and any warnings or errors will be color-coded in the Status column.
This is where you resolve any issues that occurred due to the differences in your data file. You can:
- Check and accept changes
Variables that have been changed will be highlighted yellow. Click on Check in the status column to open up a summary of the changes, and if you are comfortable with the way ways the changes have been dealt with, click Accept.
- Deal with Invalid variables
Changes in an updated data set can render some variables invalid. For example, an altered label can result in a broken filter. To fix an invalid variable, click on the Invalid status drop-down and select Fix. Here you can edit and review the definition of your variable.
- Assign New variables to their corresponding questions
If a new variable is a part of an existing question (e.g., a new brand in a brand list), you will need to re-set the question with the new variable. Do this in the Variables and Questions tab by holding shift and selecting all variables within the question, right-click on the selected variables, and select Set Question.
How to merge data sets in Q
It is always preferable to have your data provider hand you a complete file that contains all waves of data. However, if you receive a file that contains only the latest wave of data, you can merge the latest wave with the existing data file by following the following steps:
- Open Q and load the current data file using File > Data Sets > Add to Project > From File.
- Go to Tools > Merge Data Files > Add New Cases.
- Click Browse next to the Donor data file label and select your latest wave of data.
- Decide which file you would prefer in case of conflict; Prefer current file may ensure fewer issues in your Q project if there are differences between your files.
- Click Merge Files.
- You will get a dialogue box with data differences between the files. You can drag-and-drop variables to match those that haven’t been identified automatically.
- If there are any problematic differences, consult your data provider. Otherwise, select the variable(s) with differences and click Accept.
- When you are happy with the updated data file, click Save.
- Open your main project and go to File > Data Sets > Update.
- Import the updated data file.
TIP: Two different versions of a question can be automatically combined with Insert Ready-Made Formula(s) and Merge Questions.
For more tips on data merging, click here.