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Identifying Your Needs

Assessing your needs will help you better determine where you will want to focus your data cleaning efforts.

Remind yourself of the overall objectives of your project.

  • What do you want to get out of the data?
  • What questions do you want to answer?

Establish Key Data Necessities

Once you have identified the objectives of your project, you will need to establish the key data necessities. For this step, end-users and the data manager will need to compare the list of objectives with the actual dataset to see what pieces of data can be used. Because your needs will often fluctuate, this should be done for each individual project, even if the same data subset is used.

The following is a list of some typical data necessities:

  • Derive a list of all required existing data fields.
  • Identify required primary and foreign key fields.
  • Derive a list of current and future calculated fields and their formulas.
  • Derive a list of current and future derived fields and their derivations.
  • Record the current and required end formats for each field.
  • Record the possible data values and types for each field.
  • Record the possible date/time/numeric ranges for applicable fields.
  • Generate the metadata for the dataset.


Next Step
Determine the Current and Desired Quality Levels >>






rev. 04-Aug-2022




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This website is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the Emergency Medical Services for Children Data Center award totaling $3,200,000 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.

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