So many reasons to study at the University of Derby

Here is the University’s new advert. What do you think?


Linking datasets

I’m writing something about the importance to collecting monitoring and evaluation data in a way that makes it possible to then link to other datasets. I can’t find anything that does this in a simple way, but I’m sure such a thing must exist. Can anyone help?

This is what I’ve written so far. Any comments on it would be appreciated.


The critical enabler in using existing data sources is the quality, nature and organisation of the data that are held by the institution. If these data are held by the institution in a format that facilitates linking with other data then they can be extremely useful for evaluation. The features of a database that support the linking with other datasets are as follows.

  • Absolute values. Are the data recorded as absolute values rather than percentages?
  • Granularity. Is it possible to extract very fine grained and detailed information from the database? For example, can you find out how many people attended a course, how many people from a particular cohort and whether John Smith attended this course.
  • Unique indicators. Does the data held have unique indicators that can be used to identify them? Many people share a surname or a data of birth but numbers like the Unique Pupil Number (UPN) or the UCAS Personal ID should be genuinely unique. Similarly for areas many areas share a town name but postcode is unique.
  • Standard taxonomies. Are the data recorded using standard taxonomies? For example is the National Statistics Socio-economic Classification (NS-SEC) being used to classify the socio-economic background of learners.

Ensuring that these features underpin database design and data collection will mean that it is possible to link the data held with other data sources and to ensure that it is useful for evaluation.


Help us find our bikes

Yesterday our garden was broken into and two bikes were stolen. As we don’t have a car this is a pretty massive disaster for us. The bikes were much loved and we’d really like them back. I thought I’d see if I could use the power of social media to get them back. If you could like or forward this post where ever you find it there is a chance that it might get to someone who knows where our bikes are or sees them being sold off of the back of a lorry somewhere.

If you hear anything either comment on this blog, message me on @pigironjoe on Twitter or email me on

So we lost

A Kona Ute. It was green and a bit battered, but very distinctive. The Ute is a long wheel base bike and I used to cycle round with two kids on the back of it. It looks like this



We also lost a red Velorbis Dutch style bike. This was my partners pride and joy and she would be over the moon if we found it again. It looks like this



There are a number of stories of people getting stolen stuff back through the power of social media. It would be really great if this was another one of them.

Thanks for your help on this.