Orientation Observation In-depth interviews Document analysis and semiology Conversation and discourse analysis Secondary Data Surveys Experiments Ethics Research outcomes



Social Research Glossary

About Researching the Real World



© Lee Harvey 2012–2020

Page updated 4 May, 2020

Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012–2020, Researching the Real World, available at
All rights belong to author.


A Guide to Methodology

8. Surveys

8.1 Introduction to surveys
8.2 Methodological approaches
8.3 Doing survey research
8.4 Statistical Analysis

8.4.1 Descriptive statistics Frequency tables Graphical representation Measures of central tendency (averages) Measures of dispersion Levels of measurement

8.4.2 Exploring relationships Association Crosstabulation Correlation and regression (bivariate) Multivariate analysis

8.4.3 Analysing samples Generalising from samples Dealing with sampling error Confidence limits Statistical significance Hypothesis testing Significance tests Summary of significance testing and association: an example

8.4.4 Report writing

8.5 Summary and conclusion

8.4 Statistical analysis
Having spent considerable time and effort operationalising concepts, devising questions, constructing an interview schedule or questionnaire, interviewing respondents or distributing and following-up questionnaires and constructing a data file of responses, it is important to make a good job of the analysis. Otherwise all the work will have been for nothing. There are some standard practices that you can follow to analyse sociological surveys.

Analysis of surveys involves using quantiative techniques to summarise data and to test hypotheses about relationships within the data based on samples (see also Section 8.3.13).

The following sections will explore basic descriptive statistics and introduce inferential statistical procedures and discuss relationships between variables. The focus in the sections on statistical analysis is on what data analysis is about, whta it shows and why you use it, rather than on statistical computations.

Although the statistical procedures are demonstrated, in practice researchers use computerised statistical packages to undertake the computations, so it is important to understand what you can do in any given circumstance and what the statistics show.

In the following Sections, some basic statistical techniques will be explored. The exploration will be illustrated by reference to the CASE STUDY Attitudes towards homosexuality. (For the background to this, see CASE STUDY Attitudes towards homosexuality: background)


Next 8.4.1 Descriptive statistics