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Machine-readable data files may have been transferred from their original format to a machine-readable form or may exist only as electronic resources. The data exist in a format that requires documentation (often called a codebook) to decipher.

The data are used in a statistical software program in order to perform statistical analysis. It is often necessary to have some knowledge of statistical methods and statistical computer packages before using these data files.

Tools for identifying machine-readable data files.

Examples of sources which have been converted to data files are:

Data which exist only in machine-readable versions include public opinion or other survey data and need to be distinguished from reports of the surveys. Examples of these include:


This material is based on the Web site created to support a series of colloquia in historical research offered by the Yale University Library. The initial site was prepared in August 1996 by Suzanne Lorimer, Susanne Roberts, Margaret Powell, George Miles, Fred Musto, Emily Horning, Cesar Rodriguez, Nancy Godleski, Richard Williams, Elizabeth Pauk, and Martha Brogan.

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