Reaching out to the community – surveys

With less than a week before I fly back to America, I can safely say that I’m very happy with the work I have done here at Scotland’s Rural College. Over the last couple of weeks I have left the construction of my paper on the back burner for now so that I can dedicate time to collecting the data I need for it, which is really exciting! With the guidance of my advisor here at the college, I crafted a survey to send out to agricultural advisors in order to gather their opinions of food production and the environment. Dr. Barnes made a similar survey which has previously been sent out to farmers, and so the questions were only slightly modified in order for us to get parallel information which will let us directly compare the opinions of farmers and their advisors. In this way we can get a sense of whether these two groups, which should be working in tandem, actually see things the same, or if there are major differences which could be hindering the uptake of sustainable agricultural practices. The survey was sent off this morning, so now all that’s to be done is wait until people start responding! While I only have a few more days to work with Dr. Barnes in person, I will still be a part of the team even while back in America so that I can help analyse the data and then finish the paper I started less than 2 months ago. It will be incredibly satisfying to see this project through to the end and I am excited to see what data we get and what it can tell us about the future of sustainable farming.

Data Wrangling

Near the conception of this project, I was part of several discussions on “data workflow” and other such monikers that allude to the crazy, messy world of what we call data. In a time when information and “big data” are valuable and only relatively recently tapped sources of knowledge, extracting insights from this messy world is a skill that seems like it just makes everything easier. So naturally, I was excited at the idea of being able to learn some of the techniques used to make sense of everything in the process of my summer research project. After all, when practicing science and statistics, there is a lot information to keep track of. Unfortunately that means there are that many more ways that all that information can get mixed up and jumbled around… I learned several important things about cleaning and managing data in the course of my project so far. [Read more…]

Preparing to Head North

My model is progressing nicely. I’ve made a few alterations to fix things, and hit a few snags that need to be worked out. But the main thing I’ll be doing this week is preparing for the trip to Vermont and Maine. All the datasheets that we need to fill out need to be organized and include all sorts of data from previous years, such as what tree number is in which plot and how high or how wide each tree was. The trees need to be organized so we can walk the plots in order and not have to rustle through the sheets to find the right paper every time we reach a new plot. We also need to determine exactly what data we need to be collecting. There really is no limit to what we want, we are only limited by what we have time to collect! Departure is in less than a week, so I’ll be very busy.

Becoming a Data Collection Pro

Hello again!

As I sit at my desk surrounded by stacks of papers containing the disclosures I collected from my first round of data collection along with my notes from the analysis of the second round, I cannot believe that tomorrow will be my last meeting of the summer with professor Smith and Irving. I’ll leave a lot of what I have learned thus far in my project, which I am happy to report drove me to pursue an independent study for this upcoming semester, until my final wrap up post. However, I did want to share with you all some thoughts about this last leg of my work.

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A New OBSA Data Collection Database

Hello again,

As promised, I’ve returned to fill you in on how the second phase of my data collection is progressing.

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