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Avoiding Dirty Data: Getting to the Clean of Things

Where does dirty data originate from and how can we, as proposal developers, avoid it? In 2018, Forrester Research, an American market research company, published an article entitled, “How Dirty is Your Data.”

The overarching goal was to encourage good governance as it relates to the collection of data from customers. In many instances, businesses gather information from consumers via online and traditional methods without knowing if the data is valid and authentic. Dirty data does not only exist within the for-profit world. As grant professionals, we too must be highly concerned and meticulous as we search for data that is relevant to our federal, foundation, and corporate proposals. With so much existing data online, how can we as grant writers accurately predict what is correct?

The acronym “CRAAP” (Current, Relevant, Authoritative, Accurate and Purpose) is often used as a guideline to help identify relevant figures. Data must be current and should further prove the focus of your proposal. Earlier this year, our country witnessed one of the longest governmental shutdowns in history. It impacted many governmental agencies, a number of which help to provide the statistics and records needed to develop a compelling case. As a result of closed governmental facilities, websites and databases were not updated. This limited the opportunity for grant developers to gather information when they needed it most. A best practice for proposal developers is to use data that is relevant and accurate. Most websites will include a time stamp, which indicates the date that the information was most recently updated. It is critical to thoroughly review a website to ensure its authenticity and timeliness.

Data should also be relevant. The data included within a proposal must support the need for your programmatic focus. For example, if you plan to garner funds to support afterschool programs for elementary school boys then the data that you include should relate to their academic performance within the present school year. You should also seek facts from authoritative sources. Authoritative sources are reliable because they are recognized persons   or institutions with the background and experience enabling them to publish a particular topic. School websites, Census Bureau, American FactFinder and Annie E. Casey Foundation are just a few sources that we can use to gather reputable information. Finally, purpose refers to bias. Is the information accurate and clearly stated? The “CRAAP” test is a cyclical process that proposal developers should adopt in their efforts to develop clear and accurate proposals.
If you would like to learn more about data accuracy, please check out the following sites:

Farley Library Research Guides (2018, March 21). Grants and grant writing: Data and statistics resources, Retrieved from,

Forrester Research (2018, May 14). How dirty is your data? Retrieved from,

Rever (n.d.). Why data accuracy is a real concern for companies, Retrieved from,

How do you avoid dirty and inaccurate data? What strategies can you share with other grant professionals?

Dr. Janell Harvey is a Professor of Marketing, author, proposal developer and has been a member of GPA since 2002.

GPCI Competency # 6. Knowledge of nationally recognized standards of ethical practice by grants professionals



By: Rachel Perkes
On: 03/26/2019 15:23:55
Good reminder!
By: Nancy J Muzeck
On: 05/16/2019 17:42:22
Excellent Article! Thanks!

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