Homework: Public data request – May 19, 28

The purpose of this assignment is to give you experience negotiating for access to public data that is not readily available online. You will need to make phone calls for this assignment so you know you are writing a specific and clear request. You will need to find a custodian of the data, the name of the data and any other details that will help you obtain data that is current, complete and machine-readable.

When I grade this assignment, I will look at:

  • What is the news value of the data you seek?
  • Did you address the request to an appropriate custodian of the records?
  • Did you request data or research?
  • Did you learn the name of the database and any paper forms that are associated with it?
  • Were you able to obtain the data?
  • Were you able to obtain a record layout and data dictionary?

A draft request letter is due at the start of class on May 19. I will review it with you so you can submit a final version on May 28.

You do not need to send the letter, but you certainly may if you wish. If you obtain the data you request in a useable format along with all the information you need to understand and use the data accurately then you will receive an A for this assignment. You can still receive an A if you don’t receive the data.

PS – This is what it can look like to negotiate for access to public data even after a government agency has said “yes.”

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