School of Mathematics, Statistics & Computer Science

Workshop on Data Management Methods

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The School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science hosted a workshop from 1 to 5 July to equip students, academics and researchers from all disciplines with methods to manage data using software. In particular, the workshop focused on producing high-quality, reproducible and useable datasets from questionnaire surveys. Participants were introduced to new software, SurveyCTO, which designs computer-based questionnaires, collects and manages survey data and is compatible with Excel, ODK (open data kit software) and STATA (highly efficient statistical software), for descriptive and advanced statistical analyses.

The workshop, which followed a short-course format, is the second of a series that focuses on statistical methods in Biostatistics. The first was held in September 2018 and focused on Quantitative Methods for Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E). The workshop was jointly organised by the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science (led by Ms Jesca Batidzirai and Professor Henry Mwambi) and the Department of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Harvard University (led by Dr Elysia Larson and Professor Marcello Pagano) in collaboration with the Africa Academy for Public Health and the DELTAS Africa Sub-Saharan Africa Consortium for Advanced Biostatistics training.

The workshop was facilitated by Ms Jesca Batidzirai (Statistics lecturer, UKZN), Dr Josephat Peter (Department of Statistics, University of Dodoma, Tanzania), Ms Danielle Roberts (Statistics lecturer, UKZN) and Mr Innocent Mboya (Statistics PhD student, UKZN). Statistics PhD students at UKZN Mr Mohanad Mohammed and Mr Alexander Kasyoki assisted with the practicums. It was attended by 43 participants, including postgraduate students across UKZN’s Colleges, employees of prominent research organisations such as the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), as well as the mining industry.

The School hopes to host a short course on statistical methods for clinical trials next year, which will potentially cover design, data collection, and analysis of data from clinical trials. Owing to popular demand, it also plans to repeat the data management short course in 2020, in collaboration with local research institutions such as the South African Medical Research Council and CAPRISA.

Words: Pumla Dlamini

Photograph: Supplied