Ver 1.0 – A workshop on public database verification for journalists and social scientists
August 28th, 2005 by Tom Johnson

Call for papers

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Ver[1] 1.0
A workshop on public database verification for
journalists and social scientists

The Challenge: An
uncountable number of public agency databases have been created in the past 30
years.  More and more, public and
private decision-makers draw on this collected, digital data to make decisions
about everything from disciplining doctors to zoning decisions to law
enforcement to deciding who gets to vote. 
The often-unquestioned assumption is that the data, as found, analyzed
and presented by a government or quasi-government agency, is valid.  Increasingly, anecdotal evidence indicates
that data is riddled with serious errors. 
Often, if initial investigations indicate the data is too suspect — and
the cost to clean the data by hand or automatically too high — then good and
important analysis and investigations are put aside.

Focus: Participants in the
three-day workshop will explore developing statistical and other methodological
tools suitable for social scientists, biomedical and behavioral researchers,
journalists and other interested investigators to determine the veracity of
public records databases. 

·  Participants
will learn how reporters and public administrators discovered, analyzed,
verified and corrected public databases.

·   Participants
will learn how biomedical researchers, social scientists and investigators from
other disciplines cope with the record validation problem.

·   Participants,
in small-group breakout sessions, will develop first-phase experimental
strategies to ultimately measure the validity of databases. 

·    The
intent is to approach the problem of database veracity at a high theoretical
level while constantly keeping in mind the pragmatic needs of analysts.

Participants: By
invitation based on proposals for submitted papers and presentations.  Eight to ten journalists with track records
of high-concept involvement in analytic journalism and who have demonstrated
in-depth knowledge of database sciences will participate.  An equal number of participants will be
biomedical researchers, public administrators, data-mining experts, statisticians,
forensic accountants, computer scientists and social scientists interested in
the problem of database veracity.

Format: Mornings: Thirty-minute
presentations based on selected papers, followed by discussion.  Afternoons: three break-out groups focusing
(1) developing new statistical methods for DB verification;
(2) building a
flowchart/decision tree for the DB verification process;
(3) developing rules
for creation of a hierarchy of importance/significance of record elements, i.e.
variables, in common databases.

Submission process:

·    Send the following information for
proceedings committee review to by November 15, 2005: Please
include the title of the paper, author(s) name (only on title page), the
abstract or paper, contact name, address, city, state, zip, phone, and e-mail

Potential participants
are asked to submit a 300- to 500-word abstract of their proposed paper
including details on research questions and methodology.  Journalists’ papers may address their
experience with databases and how they discovered and solved particular
problems of data validity.  However, all
final papers, no longer than 3,500 words, are expected to be at least
semi-scholarly in format and follow the American
Psychological Association manuscript style
. (Final papers shall be
submitted before the workshop.  All 20
papers will be published in downloadable and hard copy formats; the authors of
12 papers will be asked to make presentations at the workshop.)

·    Abstracts and papers must be
submitted in the .RTF (Rich Text File) format and attached to the submission
e-mail cover note. No other formats (.doc, .pdf, etc.) can be accepted.

·    If your abstract/paper is selected,
you will be notified by December 15, 2005.

Participants will make
all their travel arrangements.  (Plan on
four-night stay at minimum).  [NB: To
reach Santa Fe, one flies to Albuquerque, then takes a one-hour shuttle van
(approx. $22 each way) to Santa Fe. 
Santa Fe’s altitude is 7,000+ feet. 
It often takes at least 24 hours for visitors from lower elevations to
adjust, so plan your hotel reservations accordingly.]


·   Submission
of proposal:
Nov. 15, 2005

·   Notification
of acceptance:
Dec. 15, 2005

·   Submission
of final paper:
March. 15, 2006

·   Presentations:
April 9-12, 2006

Coordinator: Institute for
Analytic Journalism
Sponsors: IAJ and TBA

Dates: Sunday
evening through Wednesday evening, April 9-12, 2006

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico USA.  Both
lodging and the workshop will be at the Inn of the Governors — — in downtown
Santa Fe.   A block of rooms will be
available at $119+15% tax from Sunday, April 9 through Wed April 12, 2006.  Room rate includes breakfast, tea and sherry
in the afternoon and free parking.  All rooms
have, gratis, wireless Internet connections. Participants’ stay may be extended
at same workshop rate. 

Cost: $100 registration fee for all
participants; $500 for a limited number of observers.  Registration fee scholarships available for three graduate
students willing to serve as session recorders.

Contact: J. T. Johnson,
Inst. for Analytic Journalism

     or 505-577-6482

“Ver” as in “verification” and “verify” and, from the Spanish verb ver:
“to see; to look into; to examine.” 

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