STATISTICS IN RESEARCH - Research Methodology

The role of statistics in research is to function as a tool in designing research, analysing its data and drawing conclusions therefrom. Most research studies result in a large volume of raw data which must be suitably reduced so that the same can be read easily and can be used for further analysis. Clearly the science of statistics cannot be ignored by any research worker, even though he may not have occasion to use statistical methods in all their details and ramifications. Classification and tabulation, as stated earlier, achieve this objective to some extent, but we have to go a step further and develop certain indices or measures to summarise the collected/classified data. Only after this we can adopt the process of generalisation from small groups (i.e., samples) to population. If fact, there are two major areas of statistics viz., descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics concern the development of certain indices from the raw data, whereas inferential statistics concern with the process of generalisation. Inferential statistics are also known as sampling statistics and are mainly concerned with two major type of problems:

  1. the estimation of population parameters, and
  2. the testing of statistical hypotheses.

The important statistical measures* that are used to summarise the survey/research data are:

  1. measures of central tendency or statistical averages;
  2. measures of dispersion;
  3. measures of asymmetry (skewness);
  4. measures of relationship; and
  5. other measures.

Amongst the measures of central tendency, the three most important ones are the arithmetic average or mean, median and mode. Geometric mean and harmonic mean are also sometimes used.
From among the measures of dispersion, variance, and its square root—the standard deviation are the most often used measures. Other measures such as mean deviation, range, etc. are also used. For comparison purpose, we use mostly the coefficient of standard deviation or the coefficient of variation.
In respect of the measures of skewness and kurtosis, we mostly use the first measure of skewness based on mean and mode or on mean and median. Other measures of skewness, based on quartiles or on the methods of moments, are also used sometimes. Kurtosis is also used to measure the peakedness of the curve of the frequency distribution.
Amongst the measures of relationship, Karl Pearson’s coefficient of correlation is the frequently used measure in case of statistics of variables, whereas Yule’s coefficient of association is used in case of statistics of attributes. Multiple correlation coefficient, partial correlation coefficient, regression analysis, etc., are other important measures often used by a researcher.
Index numbers, analysis of time series, coefficient of contingency, etc., are other measures that may as well be used by a researcher, depending upon the nature of the problem under study.
We give below a brief outline of some important measures (our of the above listed measures) often used in the context of research studies.

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