Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Considerations around non-traditional big data sources: using sales data for a federal evaluation of tobacco products

Session Number: 1109
Track: Government Evaluation
Session Type: Ignite
Tags: BIG DATA, federal evaluation, tobacco
First Author or Discussion Group Leader: Sarah Levine [Social Scientist - FDA, Center for Tobacco Products]
Second Author or Discussion Group Leader: Kimberly Snyder [Social Scientist - Food and Drug Administration, Center for Tobacco Products]
Third Author or Discussion Group Leader: Caryn F Nagler [Social Scientist - FDA Center for Tobacco Products]
Time: Nov 08, 2017 (04:30 PM - 06:00 PM)
Room: Thurgood Salon South - Ignite 58 (Wed 5:45-5:50pm)

Theme: Learning from Others
Audience Level: Beginner

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Traditional evaluation data sources, such as population surveys, cannot provide immediate answers to evaluation questions about the impact of interventions on the target population. In order to address the need for “real-time” data, government and nonprofits need to think increasingly outside the box about potential data sources. The FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products recently began exploring the use of commercially available sales data (e.g., Nielsen) as a source of big data to provide “real-time,” ongoing data to assess the impact of its regulatory actions on consumers.

With non-traditional data sources – like commercial sales data – strengths and limitations are often different from traditional evaluation data sources. Given this, evaluators need to consider and understand these differences before they begin data analysis. This presentation will walk evaluators through a set of important methodological considerations to think about when using non-traditional big data, like commercial sales data, in government and nonprofit evaluations.

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