Data has more impact when we have the knowledge to turn it into actionable information. We need your help to gather UWM data knowledge and make us all more effective data users.

A History of Data Definitions at UWM

UITS built the UWM Data Dictionary in 2011 as an early data literacy effort, providing technical definitions for data warehouse tables and fields to a small but dedicated community of decentralized report writers. The DID and WERIT communities promoted discussion and debate of University data terms in meetings which led to Data Dictionary updates, but there was little interactivity and only a relatively small number of employees could share their knowledge and perspectives.

Data Cookbook: A Community Platform

The Data Cookbook is a dynamic repository for data definitions that allows the entire campus to participate in building a more complete understanding of UWM data. Purchased in 2020, the Data Cookbook builds on the foundation of our legacy data dictionary with a new consumer focus and added interactivity to our existing campus data knowledge.

How Data Cookbook Works

A sample definition pop-up window for the shared OBIEE Academic Standing dashboard in Data Cookbook.

Most OBIEE shared dashboards have an embedded Data Cookbook image near the top of the page. Clicking this image will display a pop-up window with a short description of the dashboard followed by “functional” definitions of each field on the dashboard. At the top of this window, you’ll see three links:

  • View Details shows the complete details of that dashboard in the Data Cookbook application
  • Comments shows any Data Cookbook comments added to that dashboard, and allows you to add one of your own.
  • Request a Change brings up a Data Cookbook form where you can request a change to the details of that dashboard.

Clicking any of the term names (e.g., in the screenshot to the right, Academic Group) will bring you to a Data Cookbook page with complete details about that field, including the “technical” definition which includes sample values and other considerations for interpreting that information.

Any Data Cookbook comments will appear immediately, but requests for definition changes or new definitions will be routed through the Data Integrity and Definitions (DID) group for vetting and approval before appearing in the Data Cookbook.

Getting Involved with Data Cookbook

We see the Data Cookbook as a powerful opportunity to increase UWM data literacy and make the processes of sharing and acquiring data knowledge simpler and more accessible for all campus data users. All UWM faculty and staff are encouraged to use all aspects of the Data Cookbook – read existing definitions, propose updates to existing definitions, and post comments or seek clarifications about unclear data definitions.

As you browse the Data Cookbook, you may see items without functional definitions. When the Data Cookbook was populated with information from our legacy Data Dictionary, most existing definitions were unusable as user-friendly “functional” definitions and were preserved in the “technical” definition fields. As we work to integrate Data Cookbook with all shared dashboards, more functional definitions are being added all the time.

We recognize that critical knowledge about our data and business processes is embedded all over campus, and that previous attempts to collect and share that information was not nearly as effective or inclusive as it needed to be. As we move forward, we welcome your perspectives and invite your participation in building a more complete and collaborative picture of the data we all use.