Labeling requirements to consider when purchasing or generating them

Proper and accurate labelling is one of the most important aspects of a survey. Each selected survey household and participant must be assigned his or her own unique identification number (ID). The household ID should reflect the cluster ID and household number. Any individual ID should include reference to the household ID. In this way, results from a participant can be linked with information from his or her household, and data from each household can be linked with the cluster from which it was selected. Labelling also needs to take into consideration hierarchical data, for example, how a selected child is linked to a selected woman and her selected household.

Because labels play such an important role in linking data from an individual and his or her household to the corresponding samples and specimens, the Laboratory and Field coordinators should work with the Survey coordinator to agree on the final label template early on in the survey planning process. Forms, database entries, and training guidelines can then be designed accordingly and related supplies (such as labels and scanners) ordered. Labels need to be received (if ordered) or printed before the training and fieldwork. Labels can be printed in many formats and can include a variety of information, that sometimes depends on the size of the label.

Special labels are required for training and field piloting. These labels should have distinct codes, for example, easily apparent different numbering systems with a unique prefix or by adding a suffix “T” to the same numbering that will be used in the fieldwork. In this way, forms and samples from these processes will not get confused with those from the final survey fieldwork. The best labels and printer ink to use are those that can adhere to any surface (paper, storage vials, plastic), will not peel off when the vials are stored in freezing temperatures, and will not smear if they come into contact with water. You can find additional useful information on labelling in the Tips for labeling specimens and Overview of labeling procedures online tools.

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