HW 03: Data Management

Wrangling your data into analyzable form


By now you should know what variables you want to use, and you’ve looked over the codebook enough now that you have an idea of some potential problems that you will encounter. This assignment uses your chosen research data, and the variables that you chose in the last assignment when you created a personal research codebook. You will thoughtfully review the variables you are interested in, document which ones will need changed and how.

All raw data needs to stay raw, and all changes need to be documented. You will create a script/code file that will make all changes to the data in a programatically and reproducible way. You will create a single code file that imports your raw data, performs some data cleaning steps, and saves out an analysis ready data set that you will use throughout the semester.

You are not expected to have completed data management for every one of your variables under consideration by the submission date. I want to see a VERY good effort has been made (raw data read in, at least 2 quant and 2 cat variables dealt with, analysis data saved out.)

Check the rubric in Canvas for more grade specific details.


  1. Create a new script file named dm_dataname_username.qmd (e.g. dm_addhealth_rdonatello.qmd)
    • Make sure this is your math615/script folder, and your data is in your math615/data folder
  2. After you load the data, restrict the variables to only the ones you are investigating using the select function from the dplyr package.
  3. Explore and clean at least 2 categorical and 2 numeric variables. One by one, check each variable for necessary adjustments. Complete each of the following steps for each variable.
    • First explain in English what the variable name is and what it measures.
    • Then examine the variable using the table(), summary() and hist() functions.
    • Identify the data type of the variable using the class() or typeof() functions. Ask (and answer) the question “Does this match with the intended data type?”
    • Recode the data as necessary
    • Always confirm your recodes worked as intended by creating another table or summary.
  4. Save the resulting data set to your data folder as datasetname_clean.Rdata, e.g. addhealth_clean.Rdata using the save() function

Reference lec03b-data_prep and ASCN Chapter 1 on how you can explore your data and start to make data edits using R.

Submission instructions

  • You will submit your code file to Canvas. This must run on my computer.
    • What comes out is what I grade.
    • Render your script file to PDF before you submit to ensure that it works and looks the way you expect it to.

Exceptions: If you are working on a personal data set then you must submit a PDF to Canvas demonstrating reproducibility. If there are questions I may ask you to demonstrate your code to me in person.



Here is an example using R Markdown/Quarto. Everything you see below this line comes is written in the .qmd script itself. This is an example of literate programming where you write what you are going to do, do it in code, and then write what you have learned after each step.


# Load libraries

# Read in the data 
raw <- read.delim("https://norcalbiostat.netlify.com/data/depress_081217.txt", 
                  sep="\t",  header=TRUE)

# Select only the variables that I am interested in
mydata  <- raw %>% select(age, marital, cesd, health)

General Health

The variable health records a persons perceived general health as being either Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. This is considered an ordinal categorical variable.


  1   2   3   4 
130 115  35  14 
[1] "integer"

The variable health currently is an integer with numeric values 1-4, but the codebook states that this is a categorical variable where 1=Excellent, 2=Good, 3=Fair, 4=Poor. So I need to convert this numeric variable to a factor variable. There are no values outside the 1-4 range, such as a -9 that codes for missing data so I do not need to make any further adjustments (You want to code out missing before you convert variables to factors)

mydata$health_cat <- factor(mydata$health, labels=c("Excellent", "Good", "Fair", "Poor"))

I will confirm that the recode worked by making a two-way table

table(mydata$health, mydata$health_cat, useNA="always")
       Excellent Good Fair Poor <NA>
  1          130    0    0    0    0
  2            0  115    0    0    0
  3            0    0   35    0    0
  4            0    0    0   14    0
  <NA>         0    0    0    0    0

This shows that all 1’s are now ‘excellent’, 4’s are now ‘poor’ and so forth.


The numeric variable CESD represents the depression index scale, which is a sum of 20 component variables. A high score indicates a person who is depressed, with 16 being the typical cutoff for creating a binary indicator of depression.

   Min. 1st Qu.  Median    Mean 3rd Qu.    Max. 
  0.000   3.000   7.000   8.884  12.000  47.000 

There are no values outside of the expected range, and no missing values.

Indicator of Depression

Create the binary indicator of depression using CESD

mydata$depressed <- ifelse(mydata$cesd > 16, "depressed", "not depressed")
table(mydata$depressed, useNA="always")

    depressed not depressed          <NA> 
           45           249             0 

No missing values were accidentally generated,

Export cleaned data set

Keep only selected variables and save to an external file

clean <- mydata %>% select(age, marital, cesd, depressed, health_cat)
save(clean, file=here::here("data/depression_clean.Rdata"))