d.scott at auckland.ac.nz
Tue Aug 28 04:11:18 CEST 2007
A common process when data is obtained in an Excel spreadsheet is to save
the spreadsheet as a .csv file then read it into R. Experienced users
might have learned to be wary of dates (as I have) but possibly have not
experienced what just happened to me. I thought I might just share it with
r-help as a cautionary tale.
I received an Excel file giving patient details. Each patient had an ID
code in the form of three letters followed by four digits. (Actually a New
Zealand National Health Identification.) I saved the .xls file as .csv.
Then I opened up the .csv (with Excel) to look at it. In the column of ID
codes I saw: Aug-99. Clicking on that entry it showed 1/08/2699.
In a column of character data, Excel had interpreted AUG2699 as a date.
The .csv did not actually have a date in that cell, but if I had saved the
.csv file it would have.
David Scott Department of Statistics, Tamaki Campus
The University of Auckland, PB 92019
Auckland 1142, NEW ZEALAND
Phone: +64 9 373 7599 ext 86830 Fax: +64 9 373 7000
Email: d.scott at auckland.ac.nz
Graduate Officer, Department of Statistics
Director of Consulting, Department of Statistics
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