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Data Cookbook

What is the Data Cookbook?

The Data Cookbook is a new Data Governance tool that will help Cal Poly data producers and consumers view, use, capture, and develop data and reporting information that is consistent and accurate across the many reporting outlets housed on the campus.

The Data Cookbook is more than a Business Data Glossary and Data Dictionary. It has a number of features that can be valuable to reporting efforts of the different functional areas at Cal Poly.

  • Report/data request Specifications
  • Data terms and definitions
  • Workflow
  • and much more

Logging In

Login to Data Cookbook via single sign on through the Portal.

It will be under My Apps, towards the bottom of the list with this icon:

data cookbook icon

What is a Specification (a data request)?

A “Specification” is the actual request for data. Currently, you might use a “data request form”, a .pdf document, a Jira Initiative, SRS Ticket, a Google doc or you may make data requests directly using an email. The Specification will automate this process and provide consistency across campus.

A Specification is created, copied, or modified every time you request new data.


What to Document with a Specification

Sample types of data objects to document with a specification:

  • Reports
  • Data feeds
  • Excel spreadsheets/Data Extracts

As a best practice, create a Specification every time you have a new request for data. If it's a repeat request, or an enhancement request, we can handle that too!


Why Document a Specification?

  • Recording the purpose, description, and structure of a data request enables others to quickly understand the request
  • Allows others to self-serve in understanding an request – reducing email and training
  • Makes it easy to re-use data requests. Re-use encourages consistency and faster development of future data requests.

Searching for Existing Specifications:

Before creating a new Specification, you might find that the request has been made before.

Go to Specifications → Browse Specifications to do a key word search. Searching with an asterisks in front and after a keyword will yield better results. For example, searching for *SWM* will yield specifications with that in the title.

You can also filter Specifications:

Filter Specifications in Data cookbook

If you are looking for a Specification that YOU created previously, you can click the Home tab and your specifications will be listed on the right side:

My Specifications in Data Cookbook

If you find a specification that is close to what you want, you will want to copy the specification. If you need an enhancement to an existing data feed, report, etc, you will want to request a new version. Please see those directions below.

Creating a Specification

  1. Click Specifications > Create a Specification
  2. Complete the fields, note required ones. This content is editable until you submit it.


Specification Name

Provide a brief name of the specification. The name must be unique. This can be searched for in the future so you can easily find your last request that you can copy for your next request. To make it unique, you could simply add the term, year, or date to the end of the name.

The name should be short and descriptive and must be unique to your Cookbook account.


Specification Type

Select a specification type to indicate the kind of reporting object being defined.

The specification type you select determines the attributes available for providing details about this reporting object. It will also help determine the workflow of your Specification for fulfillment and approval.

See the Specification Type Matrix for more information.


Functional Area

Select at least one functional area. A functional area categorizes objects by topic or business area and:

  • Determines the workflow assigned to the object
  • Controls permissions for viewing, editing, and managing the object
  • Provides an option for filtering on the object's Browse page and Queue



The specification's purpose is a description of why the data is needed.

This might describe a business process that requires a specific report or data feed, a regulatory or other mandated requirement, or a specific user need that it fulfills.

Please also provide any background or context for this request.



The description explains what is in the report. For example, "a summary of all budgets and year-to-date totals by department with grand totals provided at the college level."

The description might contain attached files that provide additional details or provide an example of what the final report should look like.

Please also describe the Business Case that this report or data extract/feed will satisfy and what the Benefits will be.

Answer questions such as this:

  1. Is this request for internal or external use?
  2. How are you going to use this information? Is it going to be distributed to someone other than Cal Poly faculty, staff, or management?
  3. What specific population(s) are you interested in? Students, Classes, Faculty, Staff, etc..
  4. What specific variable(s) are interested in? For example, gender and ethnicity or FERPA
  5. Are you interested in single point-in-time or longitudinal data? For example, Fall 2019 only or Fall 2015 through Fall 2019?
  6. Do you need detailed, per Student information or are you looking for aggregate or trend data?
  7. Do you want this information university-wide, by college, by department, etc.?
  8. Would you prefer to receive this information in a PDF or an Excel file?
  9. When do you need this information by?


Sponsoring Department/Unit

Indicate what department is sponsoring this request


Project Sponsor (Person)

Indicate who the project sponsor is (likely it’s you)


Security Classification

Provide the appropriate level of Security Classification. For more information on Security Classification Levels, read the classification section on security.


Due Date

Provide a date when this reporting object is required.

This may be the date that the report should be made available to all users, when a prototype is required, or when the specification must be completed and approved. Use the Comment field to clarify this date if necessary.



Select the code that indicates the level of importance of this request.

Specification managers see this priority code in the Specification Queue and may use this to help schedule and assign work to report writers/developers.



Provide any additional information for the specification managers/reviewers that can help with prioritizing, scheduling, or assigning the work associated with this request.


Saving the Specification

If you Save the Specification you can add more technical details in Tabs that will appear at the top.

Many departments require forms to be filled out that you can attach on the attachments tab.

Saved Tabs in Data cookbook


Attaching a Document

Click on the Attachments tab

attaching a documentSelect Choose File and navigate to the file you want to upload.
IMPORTANT: You MUST add a Description of your file and select Attach File.

If you do not have technical details or attachments to add, select Submit to send to the appropriate Functional Area to fulfill.

Copying a Specification

If you have a repeat request with slightly different data (different quarter, year, etc) or if you find a Specification that is very similar to what you want, it is best to COPY the specification

Name the specification something unique, likely adding the term or date behind the previous name will work.

Select the Functional Area.

Update any information in the details.

Add the due date and priority and select Submit.

Creating a New Version of a Specification

If this is an enhancement to an existing report, dashboard, or service, instead of copying the specification, you will want to create a new version.

To do this, you will want to request a change:

Fill out the changes you are requesting in the form that opens:

change a Specification

And Submit 

Specification Type Matrix

Ad Hoc Data Request - REPEAT

Use this to request data that that you have requested in the past.

Ad Hoc Data Request - NEW

This is used to request Student Data or Class Data. It is fulfilled by the Ad Hoc team and approved by the Office of the Registrar.

Ad Hoc Financial Aid Data Request

This is used to request Financial Aid data. Any request that is not aggregated will be sent directly to Financial Aid. This request is fulfilled by the Ad Hoc team and approved by Financial Aid. All requests for Financial Aid data should adhere to HEA and FERPA rules.

Ad Hoc Student Data Request - Sensitive

Use this specification type for requesting student sensitive data such as race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity. These requests are routed to the Ad Hoc team for fulfillment and are approved by both the Office of the Registrar and the Office of University Diversity & Inclusion.

Admissions Active Term Data Request

Use this to request admissions data for the ACTIVE term. Note, these requests will be handled and approved by Admissions.

Admissions Past Term Data Request

Use this to request admissions data from past terms.  This request is fulfilled by the Ad Hoc team and approved by Admissions.

Employee Data Request

Use this to request data about Staff, Faculty, or Student Employees.

Institutional Research Data Request

Please answer the following in the Description. 1. Is this request for accreditation or a survey or is it for internal or external use? 2. How are you going to use this information? Is it going to be distributed to someone other than Cal Poly faculty, staff, or management? 3. Have you made this request in the past? If so, can you please share what we previously provided? 4. What specific population(s) are you interested in? For example, FTF only? 5. What specific variable(s) are interested in? For example, gender and ethnicity. 6. Are you interested in single point-in-time or longitudinal data? For example, fall 2019 only or fall 2015 through 2019? 7. Do you want this information university-wide, by college, by department, etc.? 8. Would you prefer to receive this information in a PDF or an Excel file? 9. When do you need this information by?

ITS App Data Request

Please use this when requesting a data feed required for an application

ITS Other Request

Use this for new requests or enhancement requests for data warehouse tables, new reports, changes to ETL, etc.

Student Affairs Data Request

Use this to request data from Student Affairs

University Development Other Data Request

Use this to request anything other than a solicitation list.

University Development Solicitation Request

Use this when requesting a list of Alumni to be contacted via postal mail, email or phone.

Checking on your Data Request

To see where your data request is in the workflow process. Go to your Specification and just to the right of the specification title, click Show Workflow.

Show workflow link

There you will be able to see where the Specification is:

location in the workflow

Adding Collaborators

Click on the Show Workflow hyper link (instructions above)

Click on the (+) next to Collaborators

Select the individual you want to bring in as a collaborator and whether you want them to add a comment or perform an edit on your Specification. You can add comments so they can see what you want them to do.

Note: The email notification with adding Collaborators is not reliable, it's best to email your Collaborator with a link to the specification and let them know what you need.

Changing your User Settings

To change your user settings, click on your name at the top of the screen:

changing your user settingsIt is very important that you change the email notification frequency if you want to be notified immediately

Change email notice

Learn More

This short video below provide a great overview and demonstration of what the Data Cookbook is all about and how it is used.


Email the Office of Data Management:

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