The AIR Professional File
Summer 2017, Article 140 

Institutional Data Quality and the Data Integrity Team

Katherine A. McGuire


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Data quality has become a pressing issue for many campuses in recent years, as colleges struggle to extract timely, accurate, and consistent information from ever-proliferating institutional data sources in order to meet strategic decision-making and accountability demands. In this mixed methods study, a survey and semi-structured interviews were used to examine data integrity teams, which are groups that try to improve the accuracy and usefulness of data in computing systems at institutions of higher education. A survey sent to a random sample of institutional researchers revealed that many campuses did not have data integrity teams. Where campuses had them, those teams frequently did not engage in activities like data auditing, creating or maintaining data standards documentation, or training staff on data standards issues. Interview participants from campuses with an established team reported that the greatest benefits were greater communication, collaboration, and awareness of data quality issues. Both survey respondents and interviewees reported that more data governance resources, including dedicated staff time, were needed to improve data quality. The implications of these findings for strategic data quality and best practices for institutions are discussed.

Keywords: Data quality, data governance


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Katherine A. McGuire, Oxford College of Emory University


Copyright © Association for Institutional Research 2017