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Sociology: Data & Statistics

This guide provides an overview and links to important sources of information for research in the field of sociology.

Overview

"Immersed in Numbers" image of spreadsheetWhen looking for data there are two approaches, finding data gathered by someone else and collecting your own data. This section of the guide will discuss sources of data and some places to go for help on methods and analysis if you collect your own data. 

 

Data and Statistics

Data v Statistics

People often use the terms data and statistics interchangeably. However, researchers realize there is an important distinction between data and statistics.  Put in the reverse, statistics provide an interpretation and/or summary of data.

Data

Data is the raw information from which statistics are created.  Raw data is the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a study or survey. It is a primary source. Data can be analyzed and interpreted using statistical procedures to answer the questions “why” or “how.” Data is used to create new information and knowledge. Data usually comes in the form of a digital dataset or machine-readable file that can be analyzed using software such as Excel, SPSS, SAS, and so on.

Statistics

Statistics are the results of data analysis.  Statistics can be reported as numbers or percentages and often come in the form of a summary table or chart.  Statistics will answer the questions “how much” or “how many” so they are what you look for when you need a quick number.

Core Sources of Statistics

Core Sources of Data(sets)

Sometimes you will collect your own data. These sources provide assistance on methodologies for collecting data and assistance in analysis.

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