The process of psychiatric research, as distinct from its content, has been the subject of little comment. Central to present-day techniques are the use of questionnaires and more or less structured interviews. Pre-coded data are preferred, and even if there are few cases in any one study, the quantity of data collected for each usually compensates for this and justifies computer analysis, using statistical packages such as SPSS∗. The days of punched cards have passed (only in the last eight years in one centre of excellence), so at least one of the error-prone steps (transfer of data from paper schedules by card-puncher) has been abolished, but the major chore is still this process, albeit direct to magnetic media (floppy or hard disk).
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