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Tips for Using Context Boxes

This Week in IPEDS  October 19, 2010

Tips for Using Context Boxes

Tips for Using Context Boxes (But If I Do It the IPEDS Way, People Just Won't Understand! What Can I Do?)

As the close of the Fall collection period quickly approaches (the Keyholder deadline is this Wednesday, October 20, 2010), please take the opportunity to consider the most appropriate use of Context Boxes, one or more of which are available in each IPEDS survey component. Context boxes are optional, but they do give you the opportunity to provide further information or “context” that may help people understand and interpret the data submitted. Context box text should be clear and concise, explanatory, “consumer-friendly” (i.e., something that a student, parent, or other non-researcher can understand), and factual. Text should NOT be a marketing opportunity.

Context boxes are also different from edit explanations, which is where you explain to data reviewers and the HELP Desk about why the data you are submitting may not meet the system edits. You'll want to pay special attention to context boxes that allow you to enter text that will appear on College Navigator (noted at the top of the context box), and edit for grammar and punctuation as well as suitability for display on the college search website. Also, note that the text that you enter will appear along with the data on that same screen, so ONLY include context notes that are relevant to the displayed data.

For more information, and useful examples, please take a look at page 31 of the New Keyholder Handbook available at:

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National Center for Education Statistics -
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