Understand the Audit Trail
In addition to being a spreadsheet application, E-DataAid also serves as an experimenter’s notebook, by marking edits in a different colored text, writing annotations to the file for each modification, and allowing the user to add comments to the data file. With these features, E-DataAid permits the user to keep track of changes that have been made to a data file. Before editing the data, it is important to understand E-DataAid’s auditing features.
To edit a value in a cell, select the cell by clicking in it, and type the new value. When a value is edited, the spreadsheet displays the edited value in red. In addition, when a value that is shared by many cells is changed, as is the case with subject number, all cells sharing that value are automatically updated to the new value when one of the cells is edited.
This feature not only saves time, because additional cells do not have to be updated, but it also preserves the integrity of the data. That is, it prevents inconsistencies in the data file in case the user fails to update all appropriate cells.
After the data file has been saved and closed, the edited data continues to appear in red whenever the data file is re-opened in E-DataAid. If the user chooses to “undo” the edit before closing the file, the data will revert to the original black color. Thus, upon opening a file, it is possible to determine immediately if any data has been edited.
For each modification made to a data file, E-DataAid writes an annotation, which is saved with the file. The annotation describes the modification, and serves as a record of changes made to the file. Modifications include such actions as editing a value, renaming a variable, creating a new variable, adding a comment to the file, importing data, or merging data. The file’s annotations may be viewed using E-DataAid’s Display Annotations command on the View menu, or by clicking the Annotations tool button. Activating this command displays the Annotations dialog.
By default, annotations are listed in reverse chronological order. The annotations may be sorted by clicking on any of the column headers in the list. Refer to E-DATAAID: Annotation Security and Restrictions  for a detailed description of the columns within the Annotations dialog.
The text of the annotation describes the specific modification made to the file. For example, if a session is merged into the file, the annotation includes the name of the file from which it was merged. If a value is edited, the annotation includes both the old and new values, as illustrated in the image below.
The list of annotations may be filtered to see only one class of annotations at a time by changing the setting in the Show field. For example, selecting “Data Alterations” will display only annotations describing modifications made to the data in the file. When Data Alterations is selected in the Show field, the display above is modified as follows:
E-DataAid allows the user to add comments to the data file. For example, it may be beneficial to add comments concerning a specific participant, the procedure, something that may have influenced the session, etc. To add a comment to the file, first use E-DataAid’s Display Annotations command on the View menu to display the Annotations dialog. Click the Create New button to display the Annotation Text dialog. Enter the text to be included as the comment and click the OK button. The comment will be added to the file in the form of a user annotation.
It is also possible to add text to an existing annotation by selecting an annotation in the list and clicking the Add Text button. In the Annotation Text dialog, type in the text to be added and click the OK button. If the annotation text appears truncated in the Annotation dialog, use the Details button to see the complete text.