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Research Methods Information: Using Data

A comprehensive resource for faculty and students who are teaching and conducting research.

Using Data | Resources

Data Analysis

What does it mean to "use data?"

To use data is to analyze the data you collected. The type of data analysis will depend on the research question(s) asked and the kind of research done: quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods.

According to Peter Trochim, author of the online textbook, Research Methods Knowledge Base, in reference to quantitative research,

". . .most social research the data analysis involves three major steps, done in roughly this order:

  • Cleaning and organizing the data for analysis (Data Preparation)
  • Describing the data (Descriptive Statistics)
  • Testing Hypotheses and Models (Inferential Statistics)."

In qualitative research the steps are similar but when and how they occur is often more complicated. The Pell Institute's Evaluation Toolkit says this:

"Qualitative data analysis involves the identification, examination, and interpretation of patterns and themes in textual data and determines how these patterns and themes help answer the research questions at hand."


Types of Data

Types of Data:
  • Qualitative Data: Non-numerical data. 
    Examples: eye color, socioeconomic status
  • Quantitative Data: Numerical data.
    Examples: height, shoe size
  • Continuous Data: Continuous data can have an infinite number of values and therefore 0 is not meaningful. 
    Examples: weight, height
  • Discrete Data: Discrete data has finite values and a meaningful 0. 
    Example: number of people living in a household
  • Time-Series: Studying the same variable over time; the instrument is the same but different people will be used.
  • Longitudinal: Typically are surveys that are taken over time with the same people, but not always the same survey or instrument.

Glossary of Data Terms

Selected Books on Qualitative Research Data Analysis

Selected Books in the APUS Library

Selected Books on Quantitative Research Data Analysis

Selected Books from the APUS Library