THE RELEVANCE OF STATISTICS IN SOCIAL RESEARCH

Updated: Apr 25

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INTRODUCTION

Statistics is the branch of science and according to Karl Pearson “Statistics is the grammar of science”. It includes collection, organisation, analysis of data accompanied by deriving inferences from the samples of the entire population and this whole procedure requires a proper design according to the study as well as appropriate selection of the study sample. Choosing a proper and suitable mode of a statistical test is a necessity coupled with proper and adequate knowledge about statistics for accurate designing of epidemiological study (clinical trial) is of utmost importance to conduct the study efficiently without any error as the selection of improper statistical methods often leads to mistakable conclusions and errors that often consequences unethical practices. Statistics is a method that revolves around data, organisation, and analysis of numerical facts, figures, and observations which are gathered and collected according to a systematic plan and is widely regarded as the Research Design following the objective of the study with the aim of providing answer to a specific question. Statistics is very significant as this discipline engulfs with analysing, interpreting, and presentation of empirical data. “Data” specifically “Quantitative Data” which are numbers are used by statisticians to transform data into information which includes interpretation of data that is understood and useful for analysis allowing investigation in relationships among phenomena which helps to explain, predict, and control occurrences. “Statistics is a branch of scientific methodology. It deals with the collection, classification, description, and interpretation of data obtained by conducting surveys and experiments. Its essential purpose is to describe and draw inferences about numerical properties of populations” (Ferguson 1966). Statistics is a highly interdisciplinary field as research in the field of statistics finds applicability in virtuality in all scientific fields and research questions in the various scientific fields which encourages and motivates the development of new statistical methods and theory. In developing methods and studying the theory that underlies the methods statisticians draw on a variety of mathematical and computational tools. According to American Statistical Association Statistics is defined as the science of learning from data and measuring, controlling and communicating uncertainty. Statistics is the science concern with developing and studying methods for collecting, analysing interpreting, and presenting empirical data. Statistics is the subject which is widely used and revolves around other disciplines like Biology, Botany, Commerce, Medicine, Education, Physics, Chemistry, Bio-Technology, Psychology, Zoology, Sociology, etc being a branch of scientific methodology and an applied branch of mathematics which is suitable for conducting a variety of research analysis . The word “Statistics” is obtained from the Latin term ‘statisticum collegium (council of state) and the Italian word statista (statesman or politician).In the year 1584, a person expert in state affairs and possess political knowledge, power and got influenced by Sir William Petty coined the phrase ‘political arithmetic’ for statistics in a book entitled Sir William Petty (1623-1687) which was written by Lord Edmund Fitzmaurice that is published in London in the year 1895.Several Statistical languages viz.Variable(Independent and Dependent) and Constant, Discrete and Continuous, Population and Sample which also helps in conducting social research.



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BODY

Social Statistics is nothing but the use of statistics in order to study human behaviour as well as social environments. Social Statistics provides information and knowledge about particular individuals, objects, and events. Social statistics facilitate to investigate and test the research questions for instance growth of population, coping of people struggling with the financial crisis which could be cited as an example which impacts the lives of the people and encourages revision of policies. The differences and factors among social groups and countries involving issues like health, education, conditions of work, and employment are analysed by The United Nations Social Statistics Division which also encourages the analysis of the conditions of population groups, studies of children, elderly, unemployed and the differently-abled people.


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There are several typologies into which the broader arena of Statistics can be subdivided such as Descriptive statistics and Inferential Statistics. Descriptive Statistics help to summarise the distribution of attributes on a single variable accompanied by summarizing the associations between variables and relationships between variables which are regarded as measures of association and from this meaningful way of summarizing some patterns can be recognized . Descriptive Statistics is usually the first part of statistical analysis and it involves with the presentation and collection of data and descriptive statistics are used in the case of observations lying at the heart of all quantitative analysis and also facilitates to present quantitative descriptions in a manageable form thereby signifies the huge amount of data in a sensible manner which also reduces the greater amount of data to a simpler summarization where lies its significance. Descriptive Statistics comprise of several typologies which facilitates characterization of data based on properties such as measures of frequency, Measures of Central Tendency, Measures of Dispersion on Variation, and Measures of Position whereas Inferential Statistics is a process of inductive reasoning based on the mathematical theory of probability which deals with drawing conclusions about a population by testing the data drawn from the sample of that particular population which also includes the process of generalizations thereby inferential statistics aims to go beyond the data and making inferences about population parameters with the assumption that the character of sample is similar to the population’s characteristics thus inferential statistics consist of generalising from a sample to population, performing testing, determining the relationship among variables and making predictions. Social researchers try to make inferences from the data on the sample. The two qualifications required to use inferential statistics such as the sample must be representative in nature and the scale must be either interval or ratio level of measurement. The two methods of Inferential Statistics are hypothesis testing and Estimation which helps to conduct social research efficiently as the statistical analysis is dependent on the objective of the study and several methods like Context Chart, Checklist Matrix, Pattern coded Analysis table, decision Tree modelling , Parametric and non-parametric tests, mean, standard deviation, Regression, Sample-size Determination, Hypothesis Testing, Data Analysis,hsb data file, One sample t-test, One sample median test, Binomial test are used to fulfill this particular objective thereby Statistical application highlights that usage of single statistical method encourages in addressing certain social problems in different research areas as Statistics and statistical methods facilitates important applications in sociology.

Previously “Statistics” were used to influence and fuel debate and contestations on social issues through the modern meaning of the terminology is associated with numeric evidence.The forerunner of statistics is widely regarded as “Political Arithmetic” which aims to calculate population size, life expectancy that cropped up in seventeenth-century Europe which took place in England and France and the attempt of the analysis is to count births, deaths as well as marriages as the belief of growing population being a key determinant of healthy state gained ground.Those who were involved and conducted numerical analytical studies accompanied by non-quantitative analysis of social and political prosperities are widely termed as Statists and throughout the course of time social research conducted by statists emerged the notion of quantitative evidence popularly noted as Statistics with the belief that devising and revision of policies would be possible with the information about societies which would help government ensuring development as the statists were equipped with scientific developments and counting ,quantifying encourages studies to precise and easy summaries could leads to ample informations thus social research became more quantitative in nature and the concept of drawing patterns and recognizing patterns emerge with collection ,analysis of data thus social conditions became the focal point of the study of statistics as Statistics including official statistics for instance crime reates,unemployment rates crops up as a bi-product of social activity as Statistics is created through the action of people accompanied by statistics are the results of people’s efforts and hence evaluation and assesments of the quantified information is of utmost importance and need of the hour as the aim of the origin of statistics is to address the prevalent social problems as the aim of statistical analysis is to obtain accurate information about aspects of professional activities with the stress to provide accurate descriptions of the studied situations and conditions which can be termed as Information gathering that is first step towards the goals of social research. Description of relationships between the variables, especially covert nature of two variables facilitates to conduct the research efficiently and it is to be noted that naturally occurring variables like gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds claim the alteration where one variable cause changes in the second variable and often ignorance about this fact led to the misinterpretation of data thus it can be cited as the second goal of social research.The paramount goal of science is to seek beyond statements and relationships and the majority of scientists were in favour of establishing causality or cause and effect relationships. For social scientists meeting three criteria such as the covary nature of the two variables, the assertion of time-order, and relationship is a function of a variable which is not generally considered which can be considered as the goals of social research.The relationship between income and health care, more the income –more the accessibility of healthcare and establishment of time order and considering the fact that poorer sections of the society are in good health are examples of the three criteria that need to be addressed by social scientists for effective implementation of cause and effect relationship between variables and by following up this goal effective and accurate social research can be conducted. Everyday life is dependent on the making of forecasts and areas like purchasing, production, capital investment, long-term development often comes in the areas of research which can be easily addressed by collecting data and drawing analysis with the help of statistical tools for obtaining accurate findings with the help of mechanisms such as measuring things, examining relationships, making predictions, hypothesis testing, developing theories or constructing concepts, exploring issues, explanation of activities, describing occurrences, comparative analysis and presenting analysis, drawing conclusions which is also traced in natural sciences but the investigation takes place in a laboratory but for social research the topic of investigation addressing all social problems, for instance, the study of divorce. The problems of statistical theory and the procedure can be subdivided into observation and measurement, summarization, correlation, and sampling which helps to conduct research in an efficient way though there are several difficulties associated with the method of observation due to scattered observable elements or individuals in time and space or their inaccessibility and complex social variables. But the organization of limitations can lead to efficient social research and the use of the statistical procedures in social science is depending on constant testing in the light of mathematical fundamentals. Statistics being a science of learning from data helps individuals to understand the depth and gravity of the subject with graphical representation and also provides provision for assessing and analyse the quality of data presented to the individual with the growing significance of opinion based on data collected and analysed.The usage of numerical evidence for drawing appropriate conclusions providing critical guidelines and trustworthy predictions accompanied by analysis by avoiding analytical traps which yields accurate results as Statisticians are aware of avoiding common mistakes or pitfalls. Biased sample,overgeneralisation , causality, incorrect analysis , violation of assumptions for analysis can be cited as some of the common pitfalls which should be avoided for successful social research analysis and accurate findings hence statistics plays a crucial and pivotal part in researches as the use of Statistics guide researcher to obtain proper characterisation, summarisation, presentation, and interpretation of research results by following a methodology as Statistics provides a platform for research and guides the way by which the research can be conducted.


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CONCLUSION

Statistics has implications in everyday life as it helps to navigate common problems which consequence incorrect conclusion and also provides critical guidelines in producing trustworthy analysis and predictions giving credibility to research methodology and conclusions where lies the importance of statistics in conducting social research.






REFERENCES

Babbie, E. (2010).The Practice of Social Research. USA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.


https://www.jstor.org/stable/27951563


https://www.jstor.org/stable/2571147


https://en.m.wikibooks.org/wiki/Social_Research_Methods/Statistical_Analysis


https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JHASS-08-2019-0038/full/html


https://www.socialsciences.manchester.ac.uk/social-statistics/study/what-is-social-statistics/


https://www.lse.ac.uk/statistics/research/Social-Statistics/Research-in-social-statistics


https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/statistics-social-sciences


https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_statistics


https://www.questionpro.com/blog/social-research/amp/


https://statisticsbyjim.com/basics/importance-statistics/

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