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Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

13. Analysing Quantitative Data  

This chapter discusses two approaches to analyse quantitative data: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics allows the student to summarize and describe data, whereas inferential statistics enables him or her to infer answers from the data using hypotheses. Both approaches can be extremely useful. The chapter details some of the techniques associated with these approaches, and helps the student to choose which techniques are appropriate for the data collected. In showing how to present data appropriately, it also explores ways to discuss findings in an evidence-informed manner. By introducing some of the basic ideas involved in quantitative analysis, the chapter provides students with skills that can be employed in a quantitative dissertation.


Cover Political Research

15. Quantitative Analysis: Description and Inference  

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.