I’ve just started analyzing some of my dissertation data, an arduous process that entails correcting spreadsheet errors, deleting extraneous columns, and reconfiguring the results of pivot tables.
Which is not to say my data were poorly organized – overall I’m pleasantly surprised by the lack of massive errors thus far. Which probably means I’m due for disaster any day now.
However, one reason that I’ve avoided complete analytical meltdown is that I constructed my own spreadsheets based on templates passed on by more experienced bioarchaeologists. Such examples are helpful for providing a starting point for your own database organization – even if you don’t wind up using the same spreadsheet structure or collecting the same metrics, they provide templates that you can tweak and modify to suite your own needs, which is much easier from starting from scratch.
To that end, I’m posting the spreadsheets that I used during dental data collection. I have separate documents for loose dentition (both adult and subadult), articulated adult dentition, and articulated subadult dentition. I’ve also posted an explanatory word document that describes the type of data recorded in each column. Each spreadsheet comes with sample rows that are filled out to illustrate the kind of data recorded in each column. Photos of the elements recorded in the sample rows are included in the explanatory guide, to help you to orient to the spreadsheet organization.
Finally, if you’re embarking on your own bioarchaeological data collection in the near future, or if you’re simply curious about how other researchers organize their efforts, I also have two related posts that cover (1) photographing and organizing articulated dentition for analysis and (2) photographing and organizing loose dentition for analysis. If you’ve previously collected this kind of data, and in particular if you’ve had to deal with large amounts of loose and articulated dentition, I’d be extremely interested to hear what kind of data-wrangling strategies you used!