The Steps Towards Data Analysis

Hello again!  Now that we are all up to speed on how I gathered my data and what I’ve been doing for the past summer it’s time to see what I did with the data that I collected.  Once again I’m looking into the effects of differential timing and duration of mercury exposure on beak redness in male zebra finches.

The files that the spectrometer spits out at me are full of information but in .ird format, I can’t do much with them.  In order to get the colormetric values that I want, those being brightness, hue and saturation, I need to convert every single file that I collected into a .txt (plain text) file and then put it into an analysis program last updated by Bob Mongomerie in 2008.  This analysis program will convert all of my data into a .clr file and once the data is in .clr files then I can plug it back into the analysis program and it will give me my colormetrics.

Theoretically all I needed to do to get my data from .ird files to .txt files was to open them in Microsoft Word and then save them as plain text files.  This worked for about 3/4 of my data.  The rest of my data said that my user had “insufficient permissions” for the rest of the files and I could either open and not save the files or I couldn’t open them at all.  I tried everything I knew on my computer to grant myself permission as the user, to repair my disk permissions, trying files from the external hard drive that I’ve backed my data up on, but to no avail.  I eventually was able to get everything to work when I went back to the original computer, a very very old VAIO laptop that still runs Windows XP, and opened the files in Microsoft Word on that computer.  Why 3/4 of my data worked just fine on my computer and 1/4 needed the original computer in order to open is completely beyond me.

My next steps are to proof my data and put it into the .clr analysis program and run statistics on the colormetrics that it spits out.  I plan on continuing this research project over the course of the semester.

In closing, I want to thank both the Charles Center for their generous scholarship that enabled me to pursue my original research and also my mentors, Dr. Cristol and Dr. Swaddle for their support and guidance throughout the summer.  I’ve learned so much about the research process and myself this summer and I’ve had an incredible experience in the process.

-Rebecca Gilson