Editing of data is a process of examining the collected raw data (specially in surveys) to detect errors and omissions and to correct these when possible. As a matter of fact, editing involves a careful scrutiny of the completed questionnaires and/or schedules. Editing is done to assure that the data are accurate, consistent with other facts gathered, uniformly entered, as completed as possible and have been well arranged to facilitate coding and tabulation. With regard to points or stages at which editing should be done, one can talk of field editing and central editing. Field editing consists in the review of the reporting forms by the investigator for completing (translating or rewriting) what the latter has written in abbreviated and/or in illegible form at the time of recording the respondents‘ responses. This type of editing is necessary in view of the fact that individual writing styles often can be difficult for others to decipher.
This sort of editing should be done as soon as possible after the interview, preferably on the very day or on the next day. While doing field editing, the investigator must restrain himself and must not correct errors of omission by simply guessing what the informant would have said if the question had been asked. Central editing should take place when all forms or schedules have been completed and returned to the office. This type of editing implies that all forms should get a thorough editing by a single editor in a small study and by a team of editors in case of a large inquiry. Editor(s) may correct the obvious errors such as an entry in the wrong place, entry
recorded in months when it should have been recorded in weeks, and the like. In case of inappropriate on missing replies, the editor can sometimes determine the proper answer by reviewing the other information in the schedule. At times, the respondent can be contacted for clarification. The editor must strike out the answer if the same is inappropriate and he has no basis for determining the correct answer or the response. In such a case an editing entry of ‗no answer‘ is called for. All the wrong replies, which are quite obvious, must be dropped from the final results, especially in the context of mail surveys. Editors must keep in view several points
while performing their work:
- They should be familiar with instructions given to the interviewers and coders as well as with the editing instructions supplied to them for the purpose.
- While crossing out an original entry for one reason or another, they should just draw a single line on it so that the same may remain legible.
- They must make entries (if any) on the form in some distinctive colour and that too in a standardised form.
- They should initial all answers which they change or supply.
- Editor‘s initials and the date of editing should be placed on each completed form or schedule.