Friday, September 16, 2011

The database is complete at 1200 responses!

Today is a very important day and I'm reeling slightly.  Quite simply, I have finished collating the data from five years' worth of questionnaire respondents. It's taken two full days of work but I have done it, and I emailed the file today to be analysed.

I shall tell you the story of the analysis.  It has been an uphill struggle until very recently, when everything fell into  place as if it was all meant to be.

It started in February 2007, when I  decided to upload a truly professional-looking questionnaire, in a form of my own creation, compiled for me by by friend Rob (but that is another story!)  and the responses began to come in almost at once.  I thought I needed a nice big group to analyse and that 500 seemed OK. That took 2 years and by June 2009 I had my 500.

But who was to analyse it? I searched high and low for statisticians and found nothing.  Then I had an idea: the local university - they did the analysis, but I had to complete a 25-mile sponsored walk to raise enough money to pay them.

My home-made form was too full of glitches and often all the data didn't come through to me, so I decided to use a more reliable, online survey. I chose Survey Monkey, and that is where the questionnaire has been - until today!

By September 2010 it was clear that I needed professional help, but I didn't know how I was to afford it. Then in an email from the Small Charities Commission I saw an advertisement for pro bono help from  a genuine statistician!  Unable to believe my eyes, I  made contact, and that is how I found Victoria, of StatsArts. She came to the 2010 Womb Twin conference and met us all there.  I discovered that not only is she a brilliant statistician but she is also a psychologist and works at London University and is very interested in womb twin survivors.   This was a dream come true.

Promising her a full database in early 2011 when I had 1000 questionnaires, I collected another 200 questionnaires after that, when I decided that it was time for data entry, as the new book was now finished and I had a little more time - and Victoria was waiting!

Then miraculously, Ben came into my life. He is a volunteer from the local CVS.  He has already upgraded the Womb Twin web site and entered the data from more than 600 questionnaires for me into Excel, quietly, diligently and accurately.  What a wonderful person!  I entered about 120, and it took me several days :- enough to help me recognise what a mind-numbing task it had been for him.  Every questionnaire is nearly 100 separate pieces of data, each of which has had to be carefully entered.

It remained to spend a couple of days tidying things up enough for Victoria to get busy with the analysis, and I finished that at midday today and emailed it to her.  It was done! 

After eight years of research, I have a unique set of responses from 1,200 people, 900 of whom can produce evidence that they are womb twin survivors.  No one else in the world has such data!   The responses have been very difficult to collect, but the many hundreds of people who have  completed various versions of the questionnaire since the first one went up in 2003 have all helped. Thank you, everyone!

And the Survey Monkey questionnaire is now replaced by a different one with Kwik Surveys.  It is a bit smarter-looking and is easier to complete. If you haven't  tried the questionnaire yet, have a go at it today.

I will go on collecting responses, because one day I will have 3000! Then the world will have to pay attention to what we are all saying!


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