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Political ResearchMethods and Practical Skills

Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills (3rd edn)

Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 39315. Quantitative Analysis: Description and Inferencelocked

p. 39315. Quantitative Analysis: Description and Inferencelocked

  • Sandra HalperinSandra HalperinProfessor of International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London
  •  and Oliver HeathOliver HeathProfessor of Politics, Royal Holloway, University of London


This chapter deals with quantitative analysis, and especially description and inference. It introduces the reader to the principles of quantitative research and offers a step-by-step guide on how to use and interpret a range of commonly used techniques. The first part of the chapter considers the building blocks of quantitative analysis, with particular emphasis on different ways of summarizing data, both graphically and with tables, and ways of describing the distribution of one variable using univariate statistics. Two important measures are discussed: the mean and the standard deviation. After elaborating on descriptive statistics, the chapter explores inferential statistics and explains how to make generalizations. It also presents the concept of confidence intervals, more commonly known as the margin of error, and measures of central tendency.

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