Guidelines for DSSC Consultations

Data Preparation

  • work with the documentation and codebooks to explain how the data is organized;
  • copy files from one computer system or storage medium to another;
  • extract subsets from large files;
  • merge data;
  • convert data among the standard formats used when working with data.

Work with Data

  • give pointers to appropriate techniques using examples, and a library of sample programs;
  • explain program language syntax;
  • advice on data manipulation techniques;
  • provide assistance in understanding and solving coding errors.


  • support learning statistical software (SAS, SPSS, et al.) and GIS software (ArcView, ArcGIS) by having manuals available and using computer-based training aids;
  • give introductions to finding and using data either in the library or in class;
  • prepare online user documentation and training aids.

Our efforts are guided by these basic principles:

  • The role of the consultant is to help find answers, suggest solutions, and guide the user to relevant resources, not to do the user's work.
  • Researchers should understand, and become self-sufficient in, the tools of their trade as the basic foundation for a fruitful career in their field.
  • Research design, analysis, and programming must be firmly grounded in the substance of the discipline involved, which can only be the researcher's responsibility.