Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Descriptive statistics

core definition

Descriptive statistical methods are used for summarising large quantities of data so that patterns and relationships within the data may be seen.

explanatory context

Descriptive statistical methods include the presentation of data in tables and diagrams and the calculation of summary measures of location, and dispersion.


(See pictorial representation, averages, dispersion and tabulation.)


Some statisticians also refer to simple measures of correlation and association as descriptive measures. However, as they address relationships between variables they are included here as analytic or inferential statistics.

analytical review

associated issues


related areas

See also

inferential statistics

Researching the Real World Section 8.3.12



copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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