Encoding a diary, survey, or quiz means using PaperStream to detect any pen marks on the pages of these documents and transfer them to a CSV file that you can use in Excel, SPSS, or R. PaperStream will compare a template (one page of one of your documents without pen or pencil marks) to each page answered by participants. Using a Marking Rubric (which I explain how to create below), PaperStream will detect and encode correct, missing, and duplicate answers.
The encoding template is a page of a scanned document without pen or pencil marks. PaperStream will encode any answers on the scanned documents by comparing every page against this encoding template. You need to scan such template as a PNG or TIF file.
There are only two requirements for the encoding template:
As with the encoding template, you can scan your diaries, surveys, or quizzes in PNG or TIF format. I recommend PNG as the process is easier but below you can find instructions for both options in case you need them.
Scan every page of your documents as black and white PNG images with the bulk feeder of a photocopier/scanner machine (you can also scan one page at a time manually, but this will take more time). Finally, put the pages of each document in a zip file like this one. When encoding, PaperStream will order the pages alphabetically. At the end of this step, you should have a zip file per diary, survey, or quiz that you want to encode.
Scan your answered documents using the bulk feeder of a photocopier/scanner machine. There is only one requirement for the scanned files:
As with many things in tech, photocopier vendors decide to create TIF files in different ways. Specifically, they can compress each page with LZW, JPEG or other formats. Some photocopiers allow you to change the compression format but others don’t, and since PaperStream cannot process JPEG compression, We need to change it to LZW. There is a possibility that your scanner already compresses TIF files with LZW so you could try and skip this step to see if it works, if it doesn’t, keep reading.
Changing TIF compression can be done in four simple steps using IrfanView. IrfanView is available for Windows XP, 7, 8 and 10, but this can be done with Photoshop or an equivalent graphics processing program in Mac OS or Linux.
Irfan software. Changing a TIF image’s compression
Now that we have prepared the encoding template and the scanned documents, we can open PaperStream. We will work with the right panel “Encode paper documents” (see figure below).
When everything is ready, click “Go to Encode Documents”.
Encode Diaries page
This step will take a bit longer than the others, but you only need to do it once if all your diaries, surveys, or quizzes have the same layout. Before I show you how you can create a marking rubric in PaperStream, I’ll introduce the concepts of Marking Rubric, Entry, Answer Space, Variable, and Value.
A Marking Rubric is the way PaperStream knows what sections of a page are areas where a participant can answer a question and also the meaning of those answers to the researcher.
Creating the marking rubric
To create a rubric follow these steps:
Once you are happy with the rubric, you can back it up using the button “Download” in the “Backup Marking Rubric” card.
When you finish the rubric, you can type in the date of the first page of your documents in “Starting date of documents” textbox (this is optional and only relevant if you are working with diaries). This will be an extra column in the final CSV file where each page will be assigned a day starting from the date you typed in. If you are not interested in time, you can leave the default value (today’s date).
Once everything is ready, click the button “Encode Documents”. When PaperStream finishes processing each scanned document, you will get a zip file called answers.zip with a CSV file per document. Be patient as this can take a few minutes.
Congrats! You have extracted all the answers from paper to a digital file.