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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.


Please welcome Shannon Monahan, who will be joining IR&DS as an Institutional Research Analyst. Shannon worked previously for the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs and brings with her a deep knowledge of the institution, technical proficiency, and years of experience in analyzing and reporting on a unique population at Stanford in support of policy review and decision-making. In 2018, Shannon was given the Inspiring Change Leadership Award by the School of Medicine in recognition of her professional abilities and commitment to the campus community. Shannon will be applying her expertise to a variety of new projects, including the development of improved reporting on graduate student financial support, and supporting the team's ongoing efforts on a range of topics.

Join us in welcoming Tallie Wetzel to IR&DS. She will be serving in the role of Assessment & Program Evaluation Analyst on the Assessment team. Her initial responsibilities will include supporting the administration, analysis and reporting on several institution-wide surveys. Prior to joining the Assessment team, Tallie worked for SRI International in the Education Division as a quantitative research analyst. Tallie brings to her position at Stanford many years of training and experience in wrangling large, complex, messy data for the purpose of better understanding problems and improving policy- and decision-making.


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.

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.

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!