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What are archival data?

___Archival data is data that already exists as a result of administrative procedures or past studies or evaluations

___Be aware of sources of archival data:

  • Public records
  • Research organizations
  • Health and human service organizations
  • Schools and education departments
  • Academic and similar institutions
  • Business and industry

___Be aware of the possible types of data available:

  • Demographics
  • Behavior
  • Health and development outcomes
  • Attitudes – racial, political, social, etc.
  • Knowledge and awareness of issues
  • Environmental conditions or factors affecting the population and/or your work

Why collect and use archival data?

___It’s easier and less time-consuming than collecting all the data yourself

___Archival data may have already been processed by people with more statistical expertise than you, making it easier to use in analysis

___Even with raw data, the basic organization and preparation (transcription of interviews, entry of numbers into a spreadsheet or specific software, etc.) may have already been done, again saving time and resources

___It’s quite possible that you can find more information than you’d be able to gather if you did it yourself

___Archival data could touch on important areas you might not have thought of, or identify patterns or relationships you wouldn’t have looked for

___It may eliminate the need to correct for such problems as lack of inter-rater reliability or observer bias

___Archival data allows the possibility of looking at the effects of your work over time

___Archival data can make it possible for small organizations with limited resources to nonetheless conduct thorough evaluation studies

When should you collect and use archival data?

___When it’s available

___When it’s relevant

___When you don’t have the time and/or resources to collect the data yourself

___When it can truly inform your evaluation

How do you collect and use archival data?

___Determine what information you’re looking for and why

Possible categories of information you’d be interested in:

___Data on past participants

___General information on the population and/or the community you’re working with

___Specific information on appropriate characteristics of the population you’re working with

___Cultural information

___Data on a similar group that can be used as a control or comparison

___Results of previous studies

___Determine who is likely to have collected that information:

  • Government departments and agencies, the census, and other entities whose data are likely to be available in public records
  • Research organizations
  • Academia
  • News media
  • Foundations and other private funders
  • Hospitals and other health care providers
  • Mental health providers
  • Human service and other community-based organizations
  • Advocates and watchdog organizations
  • Community activists
  • Community economic development organizations
  • Businesses and corporations

___Decide where you should look for archival data

  • Your own archives
  • The Internet
  • The original source
  • Libraries

___Decide what you plan to do with the data once you have it

Use archival data:

___To better understand the context of your evaluation

___To identify areas to address

___To establish a baseline against which to measure your results

___To identify already-existing trends that may affect the results of your evaluation study

___To establish a standard of comparison against which to measure your efforts

___To act as a control or comparison group

___To provide data for a longitudinal study