Developing a Data Dictionary or Codebook

If you have ever used Excel to store or analyze data, it’s likely that an export will look very familiar to you. However, you may also notice column headings or symbols that you don’t expect or aren’t sure how to interpret. Below is some guidance on how to interpret your export and develop codebooks for your form exports and case exports.  As a reminder, project data is any data captured by the mobile worker, or calculated by the application. Within your export, the column heading names will match the names of the question IDs in your application, unless changed on the Export Edit Page.

Form Exports

A project codebook for form exports will help you to interpret project specific data. A codebook lists every indicator in your application and each associated question label and question ID. If you do not have a codebook, you can develop one using our Export Form Contents tool.

Case Exports

A codebook based on form contents may not help you understand how case properties are updated throughout the application. Instead, refer to the Application Summary, available in the “Application” tab of CommCare HQ under Settings. This tool shows which case properties have been saved and how different forms update and interact with the case properties. If you are going to analyze case properties extensively, you also may find it useful to create a codebook of case properties. For this, you can list the name of each property along with a clear definition of exactly what it means and where in the application it is updated.

Note: If you change the name of the column heading, you will not have the exact question ID or case property name in your export. If needed, you can always go back to the Export Edit Page in order to see the exact identifier and match it to your form contents.