The Beginner’s Guide to Statistical Analysis | 5 Steps & Examples

Yana Khare 02 Nov, 2023 • 7 min read

Introduction

Statistical analysis means investigating trends, patterns, and relationships using quantitative data. It is a crucial research tool used by scientists, governments, businesses, and other organizations. To draw valid results, statistical analysis requires planning from the start of the research process. You need to specify your hypotheses and decide about your research design, sample size, and sampling procedure.

A guide to explain the entire process of statistical analysis can be beneficial. Therefore, this step-by-step guide is curated to ease the understanding of the analysis. Review and get started with updating your statistical analysis knowledge. 

What is Statistical Analysis?

Statistical analysis is the process of collecting data and then using statistics and other data analysis techniques to identify trends, patterns, and insights. In the professional world, statistical analysts take raw data and find relationships between variables. These experts are responsible for new scientific discoveries, improving the health of our communities, and guiding business decisions.

What are the Steps for Statistical Analysis?

Statistical analysis requires five significant steps. These steps are discussed as follows: 

Step 1: Write your hypotheses and plan your research design

Hypotheses writing | Steps for Statistical Analysis
Source: Freepik

In Step 1 of the research process, the focus is on writing hypotheses and planning the research design. Hypotheses are clear statements or predictions about the relationships between variables in a study. These statements guide the research and set the direction for data collection and analysis. The process involves a literature review to understand existing knowledge on the topic and identify gaps the research aims to address.

The researcher plans the research design, defining the overall strategy for conducting the study. This includes decisions on whether the research will be experimental, observational, cross-sectional, or longitudinal. Researchers identify variables and select methods for data collection and analysis during this phase. They also consider ethical considerations and practical constraints.

A well-constructed research design is essential for the validity and reliability of the research outcomes. It illustrates the following steps, ensuring the data collected is relevant to testing the hypotheses. This step lays the foundation for a structured and systematic approach to research, helping researchers define the scope and methodology of their investigation.

Step 2: Collect Data


In this step, the research process transitions from planning to execution, with researchers collecting data from a sample. They should carefully choose the sample, which is a subset of the population under investigation, to ensure a meaningful connection with the findings.

Data Collection | Steps for statistical analysis
Source: Freepik

Data collection methods vary depending on the research design. Surveys, experiments, interviews, observations. Researchers minimize biases and enhance the reliability and validity of their data.

The sample’s representativeness is essential for drawing accurate conclusions. Random sampling or other systematic methods are often used to ensure a fair representation. Researchers carefully record and organize the collected data to facilitate subsequent analysis.

Throughout Step 2, attention is paid to the quality of the data. Successfully navigating this step is essential for producing trustworthy results in the following stages of data analysis and interpretation in the research process.

Step 3: Summarize your data with descriptive statistics

Step 3 involves the process of summarizing the data using descriptive statistics. This step is essential for understanding the dataset’s key features. Descriptive statistics include measures such as the mean, median, mode, range, and standard deviation. The primary goal of this step is to simplify the raw data, providing a clear overview. Descriptive statistics transform the collected information into meaningful patterns and trends. These summaries enable researchers to identify tendencies, assess the variability of the data, and recognize any notable problems.

Using descriptive statistics, researchers can communicate critical characteristics of their data to an audience. This summary serves as a base for the subsequent statistical analyses, guiding researchers in making informed decisions about hypothesis testing or estimating population parameters. Successful execution of this enhances the interpretability of the dataset.

Descriptive statistics and inferential statistics | Steps for Statistical Analysis
Source: Freepik

Step 4: Test hypotheses or make estimates with inferential statistics

Step 4 involves the application of inferential statistics to test hypotheses or make estimates based on the collected data. This step plays a primary role in drawing meaningful conclusions about the broader population from which the sample was drawn.

Researchers employ various statistical tests depending on the nature of their hypotheses and the research design. Standard techniques include t-tests, ANOVA, regression analysis, and more. The research objectives and the characteristics of the variables involved determine the choice of the appropriate test. This step consists of calculating probabilities, confidence intervals, and p-values to assess the statistical significance of findings.

Researchers interpret the results in the context of their hypotheses and the research objectives. Statistical significance indicates whether the results are genuine or could have occurred by chance. The outcomes of inferential statistics guide researchers in either accepting or rejecting hypotheses and contribute to the overall understanding of the process under investigation.

Successful execution of Step 4 is essential for deriving meaningful insights from the data and informing decision-making.

Step 5: Interpret your results

Results from analysis | Steps for Statistical Analysis
Source: Freepik

The final phase of the research process is interpreting the results derived from inferential statistics and concluding. Researchers analyze the statistical findings in research questions. This step involves considering the significance of the results in addition to their statistical significance. Transparency is essential for understanding the results accurately and precisely. 

The interpretation phase also involves comparing the results with existing literature, theories, or practical applications. Researchers may identify areas for further modifications to existing models. Clear communication of the study’s implications is essential to accurate results.

Example of Statistical Analysis

Problem Statement

You’re a researcher interested in understanding if there’s a relationship between the number of hours students spend studying and their final exam scores. You want to test the hypothesis that more study hours increase scores. Here’s how you can go through each step of the research process:

Step 1: Write your hypotheses and plan your research design

  • Null Hypothesis (H0): There is no significant relationship between the number of study hours and final exam scores.
  • Alternative Hypothesis (H1): There is a significant positive relationship between the number of study hours and final exam scores.

Research Design: You will collect data from a random sample of students and analyze the relationship between study hours and exam scores.

Step 2: Collect data

You collect data from 50 students by recording their study hours and final exam scores. Here’s a sample of the data:

import pandas as pd

data = {

    'Study_Hours': [3, 4, 2, 6, 5, 5, 7, 8, 9, 4, 6, 3, 2, 7, 8, 5, 4, 6, 7, 5, 4, 2, 3, 6, 8, 7, 5, 4, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 5, 4, 3, 2, 7, 8, 9, 4, 5, 6, 2, 3, 5, 7],

    'Exam_Scores': [75, 80, 70, 85, 90, 95, 88, 92, 96, 78, 87, 72, 68, 89, 93, 86, 80, 85, 91, 88, 78, 70, 75, 86, 91, 89, 82, 80, 73, 69, 77, 85, 92, 94, 81, 79, 76, 70, 89, 93, 96, 81, 88, 92, 71, 74, 84, 90]

}

df = pd.DataFrame(data)

Step 3: Summarize your data with descriptive statistics

You need to get an overview of the data:

# Summary statistics

summary_stats = df.describe()

# Correlation between study hours and exam scores

correlation = df['Study_Hours'].corr(df['Exam_Scores'])

Explanation:

The described function provides statistics like mean, standard deviation, minimum, maximum, and quartiles for study hours and exam scores.

The corr function calculates the correlation coefficient to understand the relationship between study hours and exam scores.

Step 4: Test hypotheses or make estimates with inferential statistics

Inferential statistics can help you test the hypothesis. You can perform a simple linear regression to understand the relationship between study hours and exam scores:

import statsmodels.api as sm

# Add a constant to the independent variable

X = sm.add_constant(df['Study_Hours'])

# Fit the regression model

model = sm.OLS(df['Exam_Scores'], X).fit()

# Get regression results

regression_results = model.summary()

Explanation:

You use the OLS (Ordinary Least Squares) regression method to fit a linear model to the data.

The summary provides information about the relationship, including coefficients and p-values.

Step 5: Interpret your results

In this example, we would interpret the results from the regression analysis. If the p-value is less than your chosen significance level (e.g., 0.05), we may conclude that there is a significant positive relationship between study hours and exam scores.  

Conclusion

Statistical analysis helps generate meaningful insights from a large dataset. Statistical analysis includes writing hypotheses, planning, collecting, summarizing, and interpreting. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What are the five basic statistical analyses?

Ans. The five basic statistical analyses are descriptive statistics, inferential statistics, regression analysis, hypothesis testing, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Q2. What is an example of a statistical analysis?

Ans. An example of a statistical analysis is determining if there’s a correlation between study hours and exam scores using regression analysis.

Q3. Why is statistical analysis used so much?

Ans. Statistical analysis is used extensively because it enables data-driven decision-making, helps identify trends, patterns, and relationships in data, and provides a scientific basis for understanding complex phenomena.

Q4. What are the two branches of statistical analysis?

Ans. The two branches of statistical analysis are descriptive statistics, which summarizes data, and inferential statistics, which draws conclusions and makes predictions based on data.

Yana Khare 02 Nov 2023

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