IRS – Data Analysis
Phase 5 – Data Analysis
- Dates: November 7 – December 1
Making Meaning of the Information
The fun, sometimes arduous, sometimes exasperating, process of data collection is complete and we are ready to find meaning in the collected information. This is where the fun part begins and so let’s take a look at the steps to follow.
Data Organization – Spreadsheets
- Every piece of information should be entered into a spreadsheet. Using Google Sheets will work, as will Microsoft Excel (preferred).
- It is important to note that ALL DATA must be entered, where you “like” the data or not
- Take the time to carefully label the information
- Be objective – you are not making any evaluations or determinations
Trends – Asking Questions
- It is at this point that you need to take some time to learn some statistical analysis. The worst thing you could do at this point is to start taking “averages” of numbers and groups of information. What you want to do is examine whether there are meaningful relationships between groups of information. To do so, you need some background information. The Khan Academy has a series of videos to help you do this. [LINK TO VIDEOS]
- Once you have the skills, you then get to ask the questions you have been wanting to ask since the start of the project. “How does THIS relate to THAT?” It is absolutely critical that you objectively look at the answers. You may not find the answer you wish and your job is to report what you find, not what you wish to find.
- You may be tempted to delete data or eliminate data as it may not fit your desired answer. The temptation to do this happens frequently in scientific investigations. The rule to consider about this is as follows: if there was a documented problem with the data collection that is recorded in your lab notebook then you can properly exclude the data. But, if you do not have independent reasons to exclude the data then you are obligated to continue including this.
- You may be able to see trends that you didn’t expect. Maybe there is a result that is completely unexpected and you should be willing to report that as well.
Reporting Your Results
- After examining the relationships mathematically then you should explain your findings.
- First, write a summary of what you relationships you found in the data and how that relationship was determined. In other words, if you used a “t-test” to examine whether THIS and THAT are related then state that fact and report the values. If you determined the “P coefficient” of a certain part of your data then state that as well. Be very specific and objective. If you examined a relationship that proved not to be true then state that as well.
- Be specific, be thorough and explain everything.
- DO NOT ADD YOUR COMMENTARY at this part of the project. This is just your objective reporting of your findings.