Protocols for Entering Interaction Data

Alberts Lab – Duke University

September 2013


The interaction data (also referred to as Adlib data) are entered from photocopies of the original data. There is one binder per group. The binders are labeled as “Working Photocopies” and are held in the data technicians office. There are logbooks for each type of Interaction data (Grooming, Agonisms, Mounts and Consorts) which keep track of the entry and proofing. For each type of interaction there will be one file per month for each group. Currently there are 4 monitored groups.

For these types of data, two datasets are entered independently by two different people. This allows for proofing by comparing the two datasets against each other. The data sheets must be entered in exactly the same order for this proofing process to work. In general, start entry at the top left of the page and proceed to the bottom right, entering data in each column in the order it was hand-written. Usually the pages will already be numbered and you can follow the order already noted on the pages (1 of 6, 2 of 6, etc). If the pages are not numbered, the person entering the “a” dataset should note the order of entry on the photocopied data pages so that the “b” dataset will match. Numbering and good notes during the data entry phase can save a lot of time and confusion later on.

On occasion, letters or numbers are omitted or unclear on the photocopies. It is possible that the originals may be discernable so omit the line for now. Clearly note the problems in pencil, and temporarily mark the page with a post-it note.

File Naming Conventions

All file names in the BaBase system follow the same general naming conventions. All datasets used to update the BaBase 3.0 database will be entered into Excel, then saved in tab-delimited text format (.txt extensions). The format is shown below:

G = Group and refers to a one letter abbreviation of the population of study animals who were observed to produce the data in the file. The groups most often needed in file naming are:

T = Type of data. The types of data that are entered are Agonism, Grooming, Mounts/Consorts/Ejaculations.

MM = Two digits denoting the month. Always use a leading zero for months with MM less than 10. Use 01 for January, 02 for February etc.

YY = Two digits denoting the year. Always use leading zeros for years with YY less than 10. Use 99 for 1999, 00 for 2000, 01 for 2001 etc.

A/B (A or B) = The proofing system requires two sets of data to be entered. Use A for the first set entered and B for the second set entered.

Data Entry

Rules for data entry vary slightly for the different types of interaction data. In general, two copies of each dataset are entered (to allow for proofing later). Because the proofing program works by comparing the datasets line by line, entering both versions in the same order is critical. All datasheets should be numbered and the same order followed by both people entering. In addition, data enterers should clearly note (in pencil) any observed errors directly on the photocopies (be sure to initial and date the note).

Entering Dates

When entering dates for any of the below datasets, it is very important that dates be entered in either dd/mm/yyyy or yyyy-mm-dd format. Because Excel thinks it's smarter than you and pick its own format no matter what you enter, you should change the region settings on your computer to the United Kingdom. The UK defaults to dd/mm/yyyy.

Log Books

There is a log book associated with each type of data. Keep it updated as you go. Always update the log book once you have finished entering a file.

Place the completed files on our lab's storage server. Access the department server according to the directions shown here: Once connected to the server, find the "alberts.lab" folder. Save completed files in the appropriate folder in alberts.lab/ABRP_Working Data.

Entering the three datasets


There are five columns that need to be entered: date, actor, actee, act, and observer. These headers must always be entered in lowercase. The actor is the first individual indicated in the data and the actee is the second. The names must always be a three letter name.

Always remember to enter the file in the corresponding logbook when finished.

When entering grooming data a few problems may arise. Please keep a look out for the following situations:

Circle these entries on the photocopies and write “not entered” including the date and your initials.

Using Census Data

On the census sheet an “X” is marked every day the individual was present. The groups were observed on days marked. If an entire column is blank the group was not observed that day. When an “O” is present the individual was missing that particular day.

If the writing is unclear but you are SURE which individual it is, circle the entry and write down what you actually did enter, including your initials and the date. If it is not immediately clear which individual is intended circle the entry and write “not entered” including the date and your initials.

The observer is usually indicated in the upper corner of the original sheet, and is usually either RSM, SNS, JKW, or ILS. If no such initials are indicated, ask the data curator/manager. He/she probably can recognize handwriting well enough to tell you.


Agonism data is similar to grooming data. The columns are date, actor, actee, act, and observer. Again, it is important that the headers always be entered completely in lower case. The act column has 3 possible entries. These are “OS”, “AS”, and “DS”. Agonism entry is very similar to grooming entry but in addition you must be aware that it may be hard to distinguish “ds” and “OS”. The field team should be using a small “d” in the data recording but occasionally they make errors and use a large “D”. If you're unsure if an entry is a DS, dS, or OS, please don't guess: ask the data manager/curator or Susan. Record “ds” entries as “DS” in your Excel file. Look out for the same issues outlined in the grooming section. Always remember to update the corresponding log book when you have finished entering a file.

Mount and Consorts

Mounts and consorts are similar to the two previous types of data entry. An important difference is that the mounts and consorts are found on separate pages. Both the mounts page and the consorts page for a particular month will get entered into the same file. Mounts always get entered first, followed by consorts. Unlike the other datasets, there is no observer to record for these, but there are two additional columns to record in the mounts and consorts data files. There is a time for mounts (entered as a start time) and a start and end time for consorts. When a time has an “(e)” written after it this is an artificial end time. We enter the time as is and ignore the “(e)”. These times must be entered with a colon, eg: 09:15 or 14:15. Additional zeros, such as 09:15:00 are also accepted, it is just important that Excel can recognize these as a time, and not just a number. When entering the act for the mounts, an “E” corresponds to ejaculate seen, while “M” is just a mount. All of the consort rows will have a “C” as the act. Again, the headers should be entered in all lowercase. If there is no start or end time the row can still be entered leaving that field blank. When a name is unclear it can be very helpful to look at the other page for the same month. If a mount is unclear but there is a consort at the same time on the same day we may be able to deduce who was involved in the mount. Dates should be formatted as detailed in the grooming section above. Look out for the same issues outlined in the grooming section. Always remember to update the corresponding log book when you have finished entering a file.

DukeIDEP (last edited 2013-09-19 18:53:28 by JakeGordon)

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