Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Social Science Statistics Blog

I had mentioned the Social Science Statistics blog earlier, but since the blog is more active now after summer vacation, I thought I'd bring it to your attention again.

It's from the nice people at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. Here's why you should pay attention to it, from its own description:

This blog makes public the hallway conversations about social science statistical methods and analysis from the Institute for Quantitative Social Science and related research groups. Expect to see posts on trends in methodological thought, questions and comments, paper and conference announcements, applied problems needing methodological solutions, and methodological techniques seeking applied problems. Also included are summaries of papers and comments from a popular weekly research workshop held here and billed as a tour of Harvard's statistical innovations and applications with weekly stops in different disciplines.

Those are great conversations to listen in on, especially without paying tuition. A recent entry caught my eye and I thought community indicators practitioners might be particularly interested, since it deals with problems we have in comparing self-report health data to get a real sense of what's happening in communities.

The article is titled Health Inequities and Anchoring Vignettes, and it describes a technique for having survey respondents classify the health status of a series of short descriptions of someone else's health functioning before rating their own. In this way, differences in expression or culture aren't treated as real differences in health status.

Read the article, as well as these two earlier articles, to see how useful this technique might be for your community's health assessment -- and for a better understanding of how to use data from other communities as comparatives.


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