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The PAIR Project Database as a Relational Database

We had two major goals in designing the PAIR Project Database: consistency between Phases and flexibility in what data analyses were possible. Configuring the database as a Relational Database allowed us to meet these goals. Relational databases are structured so that data from various files can be linked through common identifying variables. Most standard statistical packages, however, are not specifically designed to handle relational data; therefore, we have had to "build in" the relational structure ourselves. This involves including identifying variables (e.g., couple number, phase of data collection, spouse) in each data file that allows us to merge/match files as needed with the assurance that, although the data are stored in many files, data from specific people or couples are linking correctly.

We knew that most people using the database would not need the raw data, but wanted to have it available if someone needed access to calculate variables in a "new" way. We also wanted those using the data base to be able to easily move between units of analysis; so, for example, if one person needed the data at the dyadic level and someone else needed the data at the individual level, the data were readily available in either form. Although this requires more work up front and in maintenance, the added flexibility is worth the extra time. At this point, the PAIR Project Database comes in several forms:

  • Raw data (both interview/questionnaire and diary)
  • Dyadic level data
  • Individual level data

Having the data stored in this manner allows us to "customize" the data to the needs of any particular study.

Creating the Daily Telephone Diary Data also took special consideration to ensure the flexibility of the data. The data are arranged so that each record contains identifying information (e.g., couple, spouse, phase, day of the week) and one activity. This allows anyone using this data to aggregate on a variety of variables (e.g., couples, spouses, days of the week, activities).

The PAIR Project at the University of Texas at Austin
Principal Investigator, Ted L. Huston
Page last modified: 29 January 2002