Tabulation applications may be used for a number of different purposes. The statistical organization may generate tables for dissemination to outside users of the data, and the same organization may also generate tables to be used internally, as a tool for control and analysis of the data themselves. Some other common uses of tabulation applications are:
In the initial stages of designing the tabulations that will eventually be generated from the final edited data, it is important to optimize the category breakdowns. Certain variables present few problems in this respect, either because the number of categories is inherently limited (e.g., sex) or the number of categories is limited to those pre-coded on the questionnaire (e.g., relationship). Other items, how ever, may require that a choice be made (e.g, age, occupation, educational levels, etc.) in grouping the available values. Tabulation applications may be used to examine the effects of various groupings before the final design is approved.
The design of proper consistency and validity edits is a difficult task, but the use of tabulation applications can help in determining the accuracy and completeness of the edit program. In fact, effective quality control requires that users verify and document the results of the edits. By using tabulation applications to generate the same tables from the pre- and post-edit data, the user can compare the cell values to ensure that all anomalies have been corrected and that the edits have not distorted the distribution of data values across categories.
Although CSBatch automatically produces edit statistics which report the extent of the editing it performed on a file, the subject-matter specialist and/or computer programmer has the option of using tabulation applications to analyze a data file before and after editing to examine the extent of the changes to a file, and to review relationships between data items in the edited file. Tabulation applications can be used to determine whether the edits did the job they were intended to do.
Tabulations that are destined for publication and for distribution to outside users must be carefully verified to ensure that the values presented are without error. Tabulation applications are currently designed for use as a custom tabulation package but it can also be useful as a means of comparing the results produced by other tabulation software. In this case, the relative rigidity and transparency of tabulation specifications means that there will be virtually no errors attributable to programming faults; if differences are encountered between the tables produced by CSPro and tables produced by other software, the tables produced by CSPro are likely to be closer to the "true" counts. In any case, tabulation applications can be an effective tool to create publication-quality tabulations or for cross-checking numbers produced by other software.