8.4 Statistical analysis Having spent considerable time and effort operationalising concepts, devising questions, constructing an interview schedule or questionnaire, interviewing respondents or distributing and following-up questionnaires and constructing a data file of responses, it is important to make a good job of the analysis. Otherwise all the work will have been for nothing. There are some standard practices that you can follow to analyse sociological surveys.
Analysis of surveys involves using quantiative techniques to summarise data and to test hypotheses about relationships within the data based on samples (see also Section 8.3.13).
The following sections will explore basic descriptive statistics and introduce inferential statistical procedures and discuss relationships between variables. The focus in the sections on statistical analysis is on what data analysis is about, whta it shows and why you use it, rather than on statistical computations.
Although the statistical procedures are demonstrated, in practice researchers use computerised statistical packages to undertake the computations, so it is important to understand what you can do in any given circumstance and what the statistics show.