Nowadays, doing data analysis is no longer rocket science or even brain surgery. You just need to decide what type of analysis you want perform and then you can use software to do the analysis. There are many books that show you exactly how to do specific types of analysis using SPSS. What’s missing is information on how you decide what type of analysis to do in the first place! Below are the three things you need to be able to do in order to determine what type of analysis you should be doing:
- Variables: You need to know the difference between independent variables and dependent variables. When thinking about your research you need to be able to tell us, which one is your independent variable(s) and which one is your dependant variable(s). Another way to think about independent variables is to call them predictors and another way to think about dependent variables is to call them outcomes.
- Level of Measurement: Now that you know what your variables are, you now need to decide what level of measurement you used to measure them. They are three main levels that can be used to measure variables. These are; a) nominal or categorical; b) ordinal or ranking; and c) continuous. You need to be able to say how and at what level your variables were measured or conceptualised.
- Study Design: You then need to know what study design you used in your research. Did you use a within-participants design, a between participants design, or a mixed design? Design refers to the procedures you used in your research. For example, did you expose the same people to two different things or did you use two groups of different people in your research?
The combination of these three elements determines what type of analysis you are going to run. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting articles on this blog that further explain each one of these three aspects. So stay tuned!
Once you know what analysis to do, doing the actual analysis is quite easy! It’s not rocket stats!