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 9 June, 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
8.4.2 Exploring relationships
8.4.3 Analysing samples Generalising from samples Dealing with sampling error Confidence limits Statistical significance Hypothesis testing Significance tests Parametric tests of significance Non-parametric tests of significance Summary of significance testing and association: an example

8.4.4 Report writing

8.5 Summary and conclusion Significance tests
This Section explains and illustrates the different forms of significance tests (of null hypotheses).

The principles of hypothesis testing have been explored in previous Sections, which involved using tests to see whether a claimed population mean is the same as the true population mean on the basis of the sample taken at random from the population. There are many more tests for different situations.

Section examines parametric tests, which test parameters of samples, such as mean, proportion, standard deviation, correlation coefficient.

Section examines some non-parametric tests, which test the overall distribution (shape) of a sample against another.

It is important to be aware that a statistically significant difference is not the same as a substantive difference. A significant difference is based on probability and indicates whether a sample is likley to come from a specified population or whether two or more samples are likely to be different. This is a different concept to substantive difference, which is about considering whether a difference is substantial or not, irrespective of where it is statistically different. See Statistical vs. Substantive Significance (accessed 30 April 2020) for a further brief explanation (also available here).

Next Parametric tests of significance