Descriptive Statistics: its application and scope for researchers

Social scientists use the technique of descriptive statistics to a large extent, as they have to work with variables which have to be described and compared. The proximity in the characteristics of various units of such variables makes it unfeasible to state all the variables individually; so, they are instead ranked approximately, or given an average value that represents them most suitably. This method is typically used when one adopts the descriptive methodology in research.

Statistical Tests:

There are a number of tests which are used while applying the method of descriptive statistics. The measures of central tendency, variability and dispersion are most commonly used. If one has to use this method, he must be proficient in conducting tests like mean, mode, median, and standard deviation. The mode is the value that is repeated the maximum number of times in a set of data. The mean figure is the average of the total of all the units included in the data set. The median denotes the central value, which has an equal number of higher and lower units. While these tools help to find out the location of a variable, there are others that define the dispersion, like the range, which is the difference between the top and the bottom scores.

To describe a group of data, a scholar must also gain insight about the variance of the statistical figures from the average value, as well as finding the standard deviation. This will give an idea about the trend that the data group follows. Standard deviation for any set of data shows the deviation of numbers from the mean of the entire group. It is denoted by sigma (and is calculated as the square root of its variance.

The measure of skewness tells about how concentrated data is at the upper or lower ends of the data group. Then, there is the measure of kurtosis, which tells about the concentration of data around a single value. Percentiles tell about the percentage of data points that lie below a certain value. For this, the data will have to be arranged in a certain order of value.

Within the methods which are stated above, there are two types of analyses. The univariate analysis is done for a single type of variable, like price or demand. Graphical representation for this kind of analysis can include a histogram or stem and leaf plots. These values can also be shown in a tabular manner.

Another type of study is the bivariate analysis, which is a study of two different variables, like prices and demand tendencies. The study is taken up, when a researcher wants to know about the relation between the two variables or needs to compare them. A Dissertation Statistics Consultant will be able to guide you in a focused manner for correct analysis of data.

Scope of Descriptive Analysis:

The method is highly useful for professionals offering financial services, as well as people who are conducting marketing research. For the former, the trends followed by a set of shares being traded on the market, or the fluctuations in the currencies across the world will be known. This helps the traders and brokers estimate the further movements and make the investment or advice their clients better. The latter can easily gauge the trends reflected by the consumers for a particular product. By knowing how many people on an average purchased the product during a certain period, the researchers will be able to formulate the marketing strategy in a more focused manner.

The most common instances, where the application of descriptive statistical analysis can be observed are the various sports. Be it a match of cricket, or a game of baseball, it cannot be complete without the scores, and the statistical figures given for the same. The speed of ball, the runs scored by every player, and the records of their performance are interesting for every sports lover. To understand these figures better, you can take statistics help, from experts to learn the method by which these analyses are done. Such knowledge will also be useful in furthering the scope of career in many fields.

Other fields where the descriptive methods are often applied are political and economic policy making. The demographic trends, industrial output, agricultural produce, and population growth trends can be studied to formulate the policies which will prompt economic growth.

Using SPSS for descriptive analysis:

The various versions of SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) include means by which descriptive analysis can be done easily by scholars. Of course, you need to have some understanding of the subject matter, as well as know how to make use of SPSS in order to utilize the tool productively. The tests are included in SPSS and are commonly used by the research scholars for completing graduate and masters courses. The critical applications of this software are for frequency distribution, calculating the standard measures of central tendency, making stem and leaf plots and turkey box plots, and calculate measures of skewness and kurtosis.

There are a number of sources from where one can learn about the correct use of SPSS for conducting various tests and construction of concerned modules. However, apart from referring to tutorials and doing a self study, the scholars are advised to consult an expert who is well versed with the software and will offer SPSS help. The guidance which a professional statistician will provide will be valuable, as it will help a researcher avoid wastage of time and efforts. Many students fail to realize the importance of skilled guidance and end up committing silly mistakes, which leads to repetition of efforts.

While using SPSS, you will have to start by clicking on the Analyze tab. Then, you will select the option for Descriptive Statistics, followed by Descriptives. You will be able to choose the variables that you need to work with, from a list given in the package. The variables, like age, gender, city, will be added in a box, from where further action is taken. The test to be applied will be chosen from the options, along with the dispersion to be shown and the display order.

The next time you come across a frequency distribution or a graph representing scores, think about descriptive statistics.