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Basic Statistical Concepts

Use data to make subjective and objective judgments


Statistical concepts relate to how we use data in order to make decisions — how we measure things, how we represent the values in a set of data and how the data varies within the set. For example, you can compare differences between sets of data, or relationships between sets of data. This provides you with sensible ways to inform your audience about the data you have collected and it also helps you make and justify decisions.

The daunting thing about statistics is the big complicated sums that can blow the mind of mere mortals. But there are some basic statistical concepts that need to be appreciated for any intelligent discussion about information and data. You don’t have to do complicated calculations to use statistics. If complicated calculations are necessary, then ask a qualified statistician. You can still use basic statistical analyses to help make sensible judgements about all sorts of data rather than just making uninformed guesses.

The different statistical concepts you should try to understand are as follows:

  • Confidence in decisions and judgments
  • Datasets
  • Measures of central tendency
  • Populations & Samples
  • Measures of variation
  • Comparison of means
  • Distributions
  • Probability
  • Correlation
  • Interactions
  • Significance testing
  • Frequencies
  • Experimental controls

Each of these concepts is reasonably straightforward and worth trying to understand. We will post some simple explanations for you in the future, but you may also benefit from checking out The Cartoon Guide to Statistics which does a great job of making these concepts easy to understand. Also, The Statistics Learning Centre has some great explanatory videos.

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