This vignette walks through the process for using duawranglr. It assumes that the data administrator and researcher have executed a data usage agreement (DUA) with three potential levels of data restrictions and created a crosswalk spreadsheet in Excel.

Administrative file to be wrangled

The raw administrative data file that needs to be processed looks like this:

sid sname dob gender raceeth tid tname zip mathscr readscr
000-00-0001 Schaefer 19900114 0 2 1 Smith 22906 515 496
000-00-0002 Hodges 19900225 0 1 1 Smith 22906 488 489
000-00-0003 Kirby 19900305 0 4 1 Smith 22906 522 498
000-00-0004 Estrada 19900419 0 3 1 Smith 22906 516 524
000-00-0005 Nielsen 19900530 1 2 1 Smith 22906 483 509
000-00-0006 Dean 19900621 1 1 2 Brown 22906 503 523
000-00-0007 Hickman 19900712 1 1 2 Brown 22906 539 509
000-00-0008 Bryant 19900826 0 2 2 Brown 22906 499 490
000-00-0009 Lynch 19900902 1 3 2 Brown 22906 499 493

And we have a codebook:

  • sid: Student social security number
  • sname: Student’s last name
  • dob: Student’s date of birth
  • gender: Indicator for student gender identification
  • raceeth: Factor variable indicatings student’s racial/ethnic identification
  • tid: ID variable for student’s teacher
  • tname: Last name of student’s teacher
  • zip: Student’s home address zip code
  • mathscr: Student’s end-of-year test math score
  • readscr: Student’s end-of-year test reading score

The admin_data.csv file contains observations for 9 students and has 10 variables associated with each observation. Of these, 1 uniquely identifies each student, 6 are associated with the student’s personal characteristics, 2 with each student’s teacher, and 2 with the student’s test scores in reading and math.

It appears that the school uses the student’s social security number to uniquely identify each student. As researchers interested in test scores, we have no need for this highly protected data element other than for its ability to uniquely identify a student or allow linking to other records. Since we do not need to link to other records at the moment, any unique number or string will work for our purposes. Similarly, we don’t really need the student’s last name.

Besides math (mathscr) and reading (readscr) scores, we may be interested in some of the other covariates. It’s likely that many of these data elements, however, also carry restrictions of varying severity. For example, the school may be able to share the student’s race/ethnicity and gender (provided the student is not otherwise identified) with most approved researchers, but can only share teachers’ names (tid) under more tightly restricted scenarios.

This is where our DUA crosswalk file comes in handy.

Set DUA

The first step in the process is to set the DUA crosswalk file. The crosswalk file can be in many different formats and, in most cases, will be read in automatically no matter the type. (If using a delimited file that isn’t a comma- or tab-separated value format, give the delimiter argument the delimiter string; if using an Excel file with more than one sheet, give the sheet argument the sheet name or number.) If successful, you will get message telling you so.

-- duawranglr note -----------------------------------------------------------------------
DUA crosswalk has been set!

Check DUA options

In case you’ve forgotten the data elements that are restricted at a particular level, you can check them using the see_dua_options() function with the level argument set to the appropriate level. If you want to compare restrictions across more than one level, you can give the level argument a vector.

Alternately, you can see restrictions at all levels if you leave the level argument at its default NULL value.

Set DUA level

After consultation with our data partner, we’ve decided that data for this project need to be set at Level II. Because no level allows us to use the current unique ID, sid, we also need to deidentify the data. We could just delete the sid column, but for reasons discussed below, it will be better if we use it to make new, non-identifiable but unique IDs. Therefore, we use additional arguments in set_dua_level() to note that deidentification is required and set the targeted ID column.

Administrative data

After loading some libraries, we’ll first read in the raw administrative data file and confirm that it has nine observations and the data elements we expect.

# A tibble: 9 x 10
  sid         sname    dob      gender raceeth   tid tname   zip mathscr readscr
  <chr>       <chr>    <chr>     <int>   <int> <int> <chr> <int>   <int>   <int>
1 000-00-0001 Schaefer 19900114      0       2     1 Smith 22906     515     496
2 000-00-0002 Hodges   19900225      0       1     1 Smith 22906     488     489
3 000-00-0003 Kirby    19900305      0       4     1 Smith 22906     522     498
4 000-00-0004 Estrada  19900419      0       3     1 Smith 22906     516     524
5 000-00-0005 Nielsen  19900530      1       2     1 Smith 22906     483     509
6 000-00-0006 Dean     19900621      1       1     2 Brown 22906     503     523
7 000-00-0007 Hickman  19900712      1       1     2 Brown 22906     539     509
8 000-00-0008 Bryant   19900826      0       2     2 Brown 22906     499     490
9 000-00-0009 Lynch    19900902      1       3     2 Brown 22906     499     493

Deidentify data

Single file or no existing crosswalk

We indicated that the data need to be deidentified, so a good first step in cleaning the raw data is to convert unique student id, sid, into a similarly unique, but unidentifiable value.

Why not just generate some random string for each value? Though we don’t care to merge these data with other files, we may need to do so in the future. If we randomly generate new IDs, discarding the old ones in the process, we will be stuck.

The deid_dua() function does two things:

  1. It uses a secure SHA-2 algorithm to convert sensitive IDs into unique hexadecimal strings that cannot be reverted back to the originial IDs (important in the case such as ours when the unique ID is the student’s social security number);
  2. It has the option to save a crosswalk file that links the old secure IDs to the new IDs.

Clearly, it defeats the purpose of deidentifying IDs if a crosswalk between old and new travels with the new data. But if the crosswalk file is keep in a secure location, perhaps on the same server that hosts the raw administrative data, then old IDs can be retrieved if necessary by those with the proper clearance to do so.

## deidentify data
df <- deid_dua(df, write_crosswalk = TRUE, id_length = 20)

Here’s what the saved crosswalk looks like:

# A tibble: 9 x 2
  sid         id                  
  <chr>       <chr>               
1 000-00-0001 fc44d7944d7335166cc2
2 000-00-0002 a34382689a7fe02ca82d
3 000-00-0003 0a5e3a25e2f7deb83c35
4 000-00-0004 e6f7d9fd00f051ed17db
5 000-00-0005 575a5abf9b94947caff1
6 000-00-0006 5c081c6da43b5e4e915d
7 000-00-0007 01c92dccc805830a2430
8 000-00-0008 5886b0180c45981d76e9
9 000-00-0009 04f119b47e0b25f724be

And here now is the data frame:

Updates to existing crosswalk

In our example, we have nine students in the current file. Let’s say that though we have a crosswalk, it only has new IDs for the first five observations:

# A tibble: 5 x 2
  sid         id                  
  <chr>       <chr>               
1 000-00-0001 db3681caa7e4789c9a99
2 000-00-0002 8e13af4fbb998c26348f
3 000-00-0003 2c7f2f98f9ee0e3b69ba
4 000-00-0004 ed7041ab2076a84fe611
5 000-00-0005 d4180e00af840a7a8e29

If the existing crosswalk doesn’t have values for all observations, then deid_dua() will:

  1. Match old IDs with new IDs that do exist in the crosswalk
  2. Generate new IDs for the old IDs that don’t exist in the crosswalk
  3. Update and save the crosswalk

The command is the same for a partial crosswalk as for a complete crosswalk.

df <- deid_dua(df, existing_crosswalk = 'crosswalk_partial.csv')

Notice that the new IDs for the first five observations match those that were already in the existing crosswalk. The last four are new.

Looking at the partial crosswalk, we see that it now has four new rows with new IDs each for the observations it didn’t have before.

# A tibble: 9 x 2
  sid         id                  
  <chr>       <chr>               
1 000-00-0001 db3681caa7e4789c9a99
2 000-00-0002 8e13af4fbb998c26348f
3 000-00-0003 2c7f2f98f9ee0e3b69ba
4 000-00-0004 ed7041ab2076a84fe611
5 000-00-0005 d4180e00af840a7a8e29
6 000-00-0006 c7b5bd03dc4faa21ab99
7 000-00-0007 db5d444ba8d61c530a44
8 000-00-0008 f45155a4d66e9b675d7f
9 000-00-0009 2e0bce76efa1ab32da7b

Should we encounter those students in future files, deid_dua() will use the new IDs we just created.

Check data frame

If we try to write the data frame using the write_dua_df() function, we get an error.

Right, we haven’t removed all the restricted data elements. Following the directions, we can check to see what still needs to be removed using the check_dua_restrictions() function.

We’ve successfully removed sid already (when we deidentified the data frame), but still have to remove the student’s last name, date of birth, teacher’s name, and zip code to meet level II restrictions. Once we remove those columns, we can check again.

Success! And to be sure, here’s what our data frame looks like now:

Write cleaned data frame to disk

Now that we’ve passed our check, we can write the level II secure data frame to disk. Just like the set_dua_cw() function, which automates reading in many types of files, write_dua_df() will write many types of files. See ?write_dua_df for options.

## write data to disk 
write_dua_df(df, 'cleaned_data_lev_ii.csv', output_type = 'csv')

Interactive template

Particularly for the first few times you use this package, you may need help remembering the steps. To help the process, the interactive make_dua_template() function will help you make a template script that you can then modify to meet your data cleaning needs. When called, the function will ask you a few yes or no questions and, based on your answers, build a template script that pre-fills some function arguments.

An example template script is printed below.

EXAMPLE

################################################################################
##
## [ Proj ] < general project name >
## [ File ] clean_data.R
## [ Auth ] < author name >
## [ Init ] 18 September 2018
##
################################################################################
 
## ---------------------------
## libraries
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: Include additional libraries using either -library()- or -require()-
## functions here.
 
## ---------------------------
## set DUA crosswalk
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: Choose the DUA agreement crosswalk file if you didn't when setting up
## the template. If the file is a delimited file that isn't a CSV or TSV, be
## sure to indicate the delimiter string with the -delimiter- argument.
## Similarly if the crosswalk is in an Excel file on any sheet beyond the
## first, set the -sheet- argument to the correct sheet.
 
set_dua(dua = '< dua crosswalk file name >')
 
## ---------------------------
## set DUA level
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: Choose the DUA agreement crosswalk level. If you indicated that the
## data should be deidentified, those options, including the ID column if
## choosen, are included below. If you did not indicate the name of the ID
## column to be deidentified, add its name after the -id_column- argument.
## 
## If you did not indicate that the data should be deidentified, but they
## should be, see ?deid_dua().
 
set_dua_level(level = '< level name >')
 
## ---------------------------
## data cleaning
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: Use standard scripts to build and clean data set here.
 
## ---------------------------
## check DUA restrictions
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: If your data frame includes restricted data elements or should have
## been deidentified and has not been, -check_dua_restrictions()- will return
## an error and stop. Fix above and rerun or set -remove_protected- arguement
## to TRUE to automatically remove restricted columns.
 
check_dua_restrictions(df = '< data frame >')
 
## ---------------------------
## write cleaned file
## ---------------------------
 
## NOTES: Write cleaned file to disk. Select the file type (e.g., CSV, TSV,
## Stata, Rdata) and include additional arguments required by -haven- or base R
## writing functions.
 
write_dua_df(df = '< data frame >', output_type = '< output file type >'
 
## -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
## end script
################################################################################