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Representation of Data

Descriptive Statistics

Correlation Statistics

Inferential Statistics


To understand God's thoughts we must study statistics; for these are the measure of his purpose.
(Florence Nightingale, 1820-1910)

Sociological research can have three distinct goals: description, explanation, and prediction. Description is always an important part of research, but most sociologists attempt to explain and predict what they observe. The three research methods most commonly used by sociologists are observational techniques, surveys, and experiments.
In each case, measurement is involved that yields a set of numbers, which are the findings, or data, produced by the research study. Sociologists and other scientists summarize data, find relationships between sets of data, and determine whether experimental manipulations have had an effect on some variable of interest.

The word statistics has two meanings: (1) the field that applies mathematical techniques to the organizing, summarizing, and interpreting of data, and (2) the actual mathematical techniques themselves. Knowledge of statistics has many practical benefits. Even a rudimentary knowledge of statistics will make you better able to evaluate statistical claims made by science reporters, weather forecasters, television advertisers, political candidates, government officials, and other persons who may use statistics in the information or arguments they present.

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