Data analysts often say that they spend 80% of their time getting the data ready to analyze, and 20%, or less, actually analyzing them. As this emphasis usually is not reflected in courses in epidemiology and public health that include data analysis, an obvious gap is created that tends to be filled only through practical experience. Yet data are an omnipresent part of life in the 21st century. Electronic data are in our pockets, in small databases residing on our memory sticks, and in cell phones and personal data assistants. They are on our desktops, residing in our computers’ personal information managers. They are in spreadsheets and relational databases on our desktops or on a computer server.

Though the specifics of the data manager's task vary ...

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