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Risks and Best Practices for Working with Student Data

IR&DS, Student Data Stewardship, and Data Governance have partnered to offer some thoughts about how to present, interpret, and distribute student information responsibly. The project was designed to introduce some of the common pitfalls that those who regularly prepare and analyze data may experience. We have compiled a list of risks and best practices for working with student data that is not intended to be exhaustive, but can be used as a starting point for conversation or simply food for thought.  To help illustrate these concepts, we also created three fictional scenarios that depict some of the ways that data might be misused or misinterpreted. You can explore the list and scenarios at Risks and Best Practices for Working With Student Data page on the SIRIS website.

Featured Announcements

Have you wished for a place to find out information about the university's data elements? We may be able to help you with your quest.  Stanford's Data Governance program strives to improve the effectiveness and usefulness of the university's data elements by documenting what the data represents, where the data is stored and how the data should be used in Stanford’s Data Governance Center (DGC).  The DGC includes a business glossary to let you know what the data represents; reporting index, code sets and decode values, along with documentation of data sources to so you know where the data is stored; business rules, best practices, and appropriate usage so you know how the data should be used. In addition to the DGC, we also have infographics documenting relations between complex areas and best practices on data usage (data stewardship maps).



SIRIS Student Analytics: Class Offerings and Enrollments components were released in late April. This release covers course and class data, including detailed information about individual student class enrollment and class characteristics. Questions such as “Who is enrolled in all sections of my cross-listed class?” and “How many undergraduates have taken our courses?” can be answered with these new components.
Training for users are being rolled out throughout the summer, with upcoming open sessions to be held in August. If you or your team is interested in training, please contact the SIRIS team at

IR&DS has published a new webpage that presents the findings of a recent major study of PhD alumni employment outcomes. The study, undertaken by IR&DS in collaboration with the Office for the Vice Provost for Graduate Education (VPGE), examined the career paths of 2,420 doctoral alumni across two cohorts. The results of this study are available online here. The webpage is interactive and allows users to explore the data and findings from the study.


For an index of IR&DS reports, data tools, and reference materials, see: Data & Findings.


Ryan joins our team as an Institutional Research Analyst and will work on a range of analytical projects on faculty, students, and the performance of the institution. Ryan has extensive higher education experience, having worked at University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Carnegie Mellon University, and most recently at Stanford. Ryan holds bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science and Japanese from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Master’s of Arts in Linguistics from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Ryan brings to our team experience with exciting analytical techniques such as Natural Language Processing. He has worked at former institutions to create websites providing insight into research profiles and institutional data.

Justin Lind is joining IR&DS as Business Intelligence Student Analytics Educator/Analyst to support the Student Integrated Reporting and Information System (SIRIS) initiative. Justin will develop and deliver training on SIRIS and take the lead on SIRIS communications. Justin will be part of the team designing new content and functionality for SIRIS, representing users’ needs. He brings to this role deep Stanford knowledge and experience. Justin has worked in Student Services in three Stanford schools, most recently as Student Services Manager in the Bioengineering department. Prior to that, he was a Curriculum and Projects Administrator for major undergraduate programs in the office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Justin holds bachelor’s degrees in the arts, specializing in Music and Dance. He is furthering his education through the Master of Liberal Arts program here at Stanford.

We are pleased to announce that Jonathan Siu is joining IR&DS as an Institutional Research Data Analyst. In his new role, Jonathan will concentrate mainly on student data both enrolled and admitted students, and SIRIS ad-hoc projects. Jonathan is transferring from Student Services Specialist role and bringing a ton of expertise to his new role. Please join me in welcoming Jonathan Siu to the IR team!

Please welcome Clara Carter, our new Business Intelligence and Reporting Analyst on the IR&DS team. Clara is returning to Stanford as part of the SIRIS (Student Integrated Reporting and Information System) team, and she brings over 15 years of BI experience in addition to the 5 years she spent working with Stanford student data previously. We’re so glad she’s back!

Stephanie is our newest Institutional Research Associate. Her role will be to support the Student Data Oversight Committee, the Data Governance Program and tools.  She will also be supporting the development of the SIRIS Oversight Committee. Stephanie brings to this role a high level of attention to detail and the ability to handle multiple projects at one time with success. We are enthusiastic about Stephanie joining our teams and welcome her wholeheartedly.