The project is mainly based on the statistical techniques and procedures for an analysis of aggregated data. Broadly speaking, these procedures to collect and to analyse the data quality of the SMRE consist of five distinct steps:
- Relevant data sources are identified and added to the metadatabase via the data entry tool either by external scientists and country experts or by the SMRE team (step one in the data entry section). Registered users will have full access to edit all data provided by them.
For each of these data sources, the research team then clarifies the origin of the data reported. Through this it is possible to identify those sources from which the reported figures really originate. Only these sources are called original sources.
- In general, all available statistics, original or not, are integrated into the metadatabase. In a second step the data given in the sources are harmonized with the SMRE-categories of religious denominations and groups and the SMRE-country classification scheme. This procedure of standardizing the data structure is called “mapping” (step two in the data entry section).
- For all available statistics, original or not, a detailed data description will be added (step three in the data entry section). The data description is an important part of the endeavour.
- For each country all original and standardized data will be analysed separately on consistency and data reliability. The standardized data will then be classified according to the degree of pluralization.
- Based on this information, the SMRE team evaluates the overall quality of data of each country data set included into the SMRE.
Using the forthcoming data output tool, any of this information can be retrieved and analysed by tables, graphs and maps. Comparisons are available across time, sources, countries and group of countries. Standardised routines will present ready-to-use tables with the “best data” of the SMRE. More elaborated techniques of data analysis will offer access to almost any combination of information of the SMRE including the raw data, data description and – important to note – even the original wording of the questionnaires.