Archival data are data that already exist
that have been collected by someone other than your agency. All kinds of agencies keep
records and collect dataschool districts, police departments, hospitals, STD
clinics, and family planning clinics. This archival data is the simplest kind of data to
gather, because someone else has already done the work for you, and you dont have to
ask anyones opinion. Yet gathering archival data is the one form of research most
overlooked by many AIDS prevention agencies.
How is it used?
One agency in rural San Diego County suggested that gathering these kinds of data is an ideal task for any interns or volunteers at your agency. Contacting other social service organizations is an excellent way to forge links between agencies that can help in public relations (police departments or school boards) or in offering referrals and links to outside services (family planning clinics, substance abuse, or hospitals).
Archival data can help:
Refine programs. Police reports can help outreach workers schedule at what times and in what neighborhoods to best reach clients. Immigration data can help determine if any languages or services are needed to attract high-risk immigrants.
Highlight a problem that may be hidden. Data on truancy/dropout rates can show if youth are being adequately reached through school-based programs. Arrest records can highlight changes in sex work, drug selling, or other activities that might affect HIV prevention programs.
Monitor your program over time. Certain data can demonstrate that your program is having an impact. Collecting information on STD rates, drug overdoses, teen pregnancies, and drug-related arrests both before and after your program is implemented can help show what changes may have occurred in your community. These data can also be cited when writing grants or reporting back to funders.
Make a case for your program that you cant make with agency data.
Types of archival data:
Resources for finding and accessing archival data can be found in Appendix 1 of the Resources section.
Good Questions, Better Answers
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