By Manda J Kambikambi, Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science student
“In God we trust. All others must bring data.”
-W. Edwards Deming, Statistician
Data in research is any information that has been collected, observed, generated or created to validate original research findings. It forms the building blocks from which researchers find answers. Knowing the types of data you are dealing with enables you to choose the correct form of analysis. Two major groupings of data exist: quantitative data that can be measured with numbers and qualitative data that is usually textual or descriptive. Questionnaires are a common technique for collecting quantitative data.
On the 24th of April 2019, the Centre for Postgraduate Studies hosted a workshop entitled Introduction to working with quantitative data. This workshop is part of an ongoing series whose purpose is to help postgraduate students learn about data analysis from experienced researchers. Mr. Jeremy Baxter from the Department of Statistics took postgraduate students through the fundamentals of working with quantitative data resulting from questionnaire or survey research.
Mr. Baxter began with an overview of some key components of questionnaire and data preparation, such as the layout of a questionnaire, how to encode data, the importance of having a scoring key before commencement of data collection and making sure you have a covering letter. He followed this up with a discussion on statistical analysis software such as R, SPSS and Statistica. Participants then took part in an in-depth interactive lesson on some basic ways of working and summarizing questionnaire data in Statistica. This included instructions how to import and export data into and out of Statistica, creating figures and graphs, and some typical statistical techniques.
Mr. Baxter had the following take home messages for postgraduate students:
- A first important step before preparing questionnaires is to have a clear hypothesis which one then tests using data collected using questionnaires.
- Use the most appropriate software analysis tool for your particular research.
- You probably won’t be asked to re-invent the wheel from a statistical perspective so everything you need is in the literature.
Don’t miss the introductory course on using R in July. The short video in the link below provides more information:
Postgraduate students can find information on upcoming postgraduate events at: