Detailed information about the course

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Data Management for Ecologists and Evolutionary Biologists


16-17 March 2017


Malie Lessard-Therrien, University of Bern (CH)

Dr. Dominique Roche, University of Neuchâtel (CH)


Dr. Roel van Klink, University of Bern (CH)


This workshop will teach you how to create a database in Microsoft Access or MySQL. You will also learn why good data management skills are important (especially in an era of big data) and learn to identify good and bad practices when organizing your own data and dealing with other people’s data.



You will learn the basics of relational databases ( and the Structured Query Language ( to subset and select (i.e. query) data from databases. One of the workshop’s main objectives is to help you create a database tailored to your own system, data, and research questions. Thus, the workshop will be most useful for students who already have data stored in some form (e.g. field notes, lab notes, simple digital formats) and are ready or have started to analyze them. The database you will create will be flexible to suit many different purposes and can be expanded in future experiments or projects. The aim is to make data entry as easy and flawless as possible, while making the database (re)user friendly.



In the final stages of the workshop, we will cover data export from the database software and import into R, and how to shape your data into any desired format for analysis. We will also cover best practices in data re-use (i.e. re-using data collected by other researchers) and simple tricks to reshape poorly stored data.



Course outline:

Day 1

1)     Lecture: importance of good data management do’s and don’ts

2)     Practical: sketching of your data structure with respect to the aims of the research

a.     What questions do I seek to answer?

b.     What type of data do I have?

c.     How are the data currently stored and organized?

d.     What is the relation of these data to my other research questions/projects?

e.     What are potential ways in which people might want to re-use my data in the future?

f.      What types of statistical analyses will I carry out on these data?

3)     Lecture: using queries to select data from your relational database

4)     Lunch break

5)     Create or improve your own database


Day 2

6)     Lecture: using digital ‘forms’ to enter data into your relational database

7)     Practical: make a form in your database

8)     Lunch break

9)     Lecture: importing data into R and reshaping it

10)  Practical: R reshape

11)  Lecture: best practices for data sharing and re-use


University of Bern




Full attendance and Active participation

Requirements for attending the workshop:
  • Having data collected and stored in some format (digital or hard copy). These data will be used to create the database
  • Having a (preliminary) idea of how you want to analyze the data (in other words, a research question)
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Excel or comparable spreadsheet programs


Bring to the workshop:
  •  Your own laptop with R and R-studio and one of the following database programs installed: Microsoft Access or the open source software MySQL.
  • Your data.
  • A list of potential questions that you wish to answer with your data.



16-17 March 2017
9h30 - 17h30



Uni Tobler Kursraum, Room B -181, Länggassstrasse 49, 3012 Bern

Way to classroom:

Way to classroom


Classroom location:

Location classroom


PhD students of the DPEE are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train (half-fare card, and 2nd class). Please send the original tickets (no copies, except for the general abonnement) with the reimbursement form to:


Caroline Betto-Colliard

Doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution  

DEE- Biophore Building  

University of Lausanne  

CH-1015 Lausanne


Concerning reimbursement of accommodation, please contact Caroline Betto-Colliard (ecologie-evolution(at) BEFORE the beginning of the course.


For all other PhD students, please check reimbursement conditions on the website of your doctoral program


Priority is given to PhD students of the DPEE and the Interuniversity Doctoral Program in Organismal Biology until 1st of March 2017. After this deadline, first comes, first serves


CUSO PhD students: through your MyCUSO account. 


External participants (non-CUSO PhD students, post-docs, etc...): use the icon "registration" at top of page and the last gray box "non-CUSO student" ("personne hors myCUSO").



Deadline for registration 07.03.2017
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