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SOIC Manual

SOIC Manual Chapter 1. Welcome to the SOIC System

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NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

The Standardized Occupation and Industry Coding (SOIC) System is a software application that automates the assignment of industry and occupation (I&O) codes to vital records data. The SOIC System is designed to run on standard IBM PC compatible microcomputers.

The SOIC System was designed to be as easy to use as possible. The appearance of the program and the commands that you issue follow standards established by popular modern software. In particular, we have followed Microsoft's conventions for Windows applications wherever possible.

As a result, experienced computer users should find it very easy to pick up this program. If you are relatively inexperienced with computers, however, we recommend that you read The SOIC System User's Manual carefully. It will give you a variety of tips that will make using the program much more convenient. Part 2 of the manual is a "User's Reference Guide." New and old users can look up topics in this section, and find answers to specific questions.

Version 1.5 of the SOIC System can run on any computer that supports Microsoft Windows versions 95, 98, 2000, or Windows NT. We recommend a 90 MHz Pentium system with 32 megabytes of RAM (random access memory). You must have a hard disk drive with at least 30 megabytes of free disk space. You must have even more disk space if you intend to code very large tables. Microsoft Internet Explorer must be installed. (See Appendix A "Installing the SOIC System on Your Computer" for details.) The SOIC System is compatible with Novell NetWare local area networks.

The SOIC System user interface-the "client" application-was developed using Microsoft Visual Basic version 6 and Microsoft Access 2000. The 1990 Coding Engine was developed using Borland C++ Builder 4.

Development of SOIC was a collaborative effort between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and other agencies including the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Center for Heath Statistics (NCHS), the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), and the United States Bureau of the Census (BOC).

This effort also involved input from more than 40 individuals representing various federal and state organizations with interest and expertise in I&O coding. The actual software development was performed by HGO Technology, Inc.

The SOIC Policy Committee, composed of management representatives from these partnering agencies, provided overall guidance on the project, ensuring that the software meets the needs of its user community. The SOIC Technical Committee, composed of coding experts, advised SOIC's developers on technical and coding issues.

Windows, Visual Basic, and Access are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Borland C++ Builder 4 is a trademark of Inprise/Borland Corporation. Other brands and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

Top of Page     1.1 What is Industry and Occupation Coding?

By manipulating records on large numbers of individuals, researchers can learn whether individuals with certain characteristics are unusually likely to have other characteristics. In an example that is particularly relevant to the SOIC System, researchers can learn, by looking at a large number of cases, whether people who work in particular occupations and industries are unusually likely to become sick, injured, or die of particular causes. The number of possible occupations and industries that may be reported on death certificates and other records, however, is vast. The 1990 Alphabetical Index of Industries and Occupations, U.S. Bureau of the Census, lists about 21,000 industry titles and 30,000 occupation titles. However, there is no guarantee that persons filling out death certificates and other health records will use the titles included in the Alphabetical Index. In fact, an enormous variety of titles may show up in these records.

To make this vast range of possible titles manageable, researchers rely on industry and occupation coders (I&O coders) to classify the "literals"-that is, the actual titles found on death certificates and other records-into a limited number of categories.

I&O coding is a labor intensive, error prone task. Experienced coders may disagree at times over which code to assign to a particular literal. Coders must often contend with literals that are written by persons with no training in how to describe industries and occupations. In some cases the industry and occupation fields are switched. Company names may be used instead of actual industries. Literals can be misspelled or even illegible.

To make the job of the I&O coder easier, and to conserve the effort of skilled personnel, NIOSH commissioned the SOIC System-a software program to automate, as much as possible, the assignment of industry and occupation codes. Because I&O coding can be a difficult task even for human beings, it follows that the SOIC System is not capable of assigning correct codes to all literals. By coding most cases, however, the SOIC System can allow I&O coders to concentrate their efforts on a relatively small number of cases. The SOIC System uses a variety of methods for determining codes, including a number of relatively advanced techniques borrowed from the field of artificial intelligence. For additional information about industry and occupation coding, view the Industry and Occupation Coding Support page.


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