How Primary Keys Detect Duplicate Data

When working with data imports in Faculty Success, you may be told to include the primary key for a record. A primary key is a field or combination of fields that is used to uniquely identify each record on the screen.

Primary keys are important because they help you identify, add, delete and modify records. Primary keys ensure that each record on a screen is distinct from other records for a specific user. This reduces the possibility of duplicate data. When you are updating data, primary key values must be included (wherever applicable) so that the system knows which records to update.

All primary key values must be included in any data import or web services update. Primary key rules are not enforced when creating and editing records through the user interface.

How to determine the primary keys in your system

By default, only a small subset of screens have a primary key assigned. In the base instrument, the following screens have a primary key:

  • Yearly Data (Primary Key: Academic Year)
  • Workload Information (Primary Key: Academic Year)
  • Academic Advising (Primary Key: Academic Year)
  • Scheduled Teaching (Primary Key: Year, Term, Course Prefix, Course Number, Section)

If you intend to regularly load or update data in other screens, you should ensure that a proper primary key is set for each screen. To do this, submit a screen revision work request indicating which field(s) should be utilized for the primary key. If you are uncertain what fields should be used, you may contact Watermark support.

Here's an example of a non-default primary key value: It's common for institutions to regularly import data to the Contracts, Grants and Sponsored Research screen from a source system that tracks grants on campus. If that source system has a unique Grant ID number, Faculty Success can create a corresponding Grant ID field and set that as the primary key.

For a listing of all primary keys in your instance, please refer to your Configuration Report.

Using primary keys and record IDs to update data

When a screen has a primary key, all of the fields that make up that key must be included in the data import file. This ensures the import does not result in duplicated records. If you need to update or change a value in a field that is part of the primary key, you must also include the system-generated record ID in the data file. The record ID is an internal key that uniquely identifies each record in the system. You can find the record ID by running an Export Data report.

If a screen does not have a primary key, you may still be able to update the records using only the Record ID. However, if you plan to update records on this screen on a regular basis, you should set a primary key for that screen.

If you have questions about primary keys and how they work in your system, feel free to reach out to Watermark support.

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