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Critical Race & Ethnic Studies 110 (Myers)

Methods in Critical Race & Ethnic Studies

Basic Terminology

Data: Fundamentally, data=information. We typically use the term to refer to numeric files that are created and organized for analysis. There are two types of data:

  • Aggregate data are statistical summaries of data, meaning that the data have been analyzed in some way.  The Data-Planet repository is an excellent resource for obtaining aggregated data. 
  • Microdata: Individual response data obtained in surveys and censuses - these are data points directly observed or collected from a specific unit of observation. Also known as raw data. 

Data point: Singular of data. Refers to a single point of data.

Quantitative data/variables: Information that can be handled numerically.

Qualitative data/variables: Information that refers to the quality of something. Ethnographic research, participant observation, open-ended interviews, etc., may collect qualitative data. Some element of the results obtained via qualitative research may be handled numerically, eg, how many observations, number of interviews, etc.

Indicator: Typically used as a synonym for statistics that describe variables that describe something about the socioeconomic environment of a society, eg, per capita income, unemployment rate, median years of education.

Statistic: A number that describes some characteristic, or status, of a variable, eg, a count or a percentage.

Statistics: Numerical summaries of data that has been analyzed in some way.

Time series data: Any data arranged in chronological order.

Variable: Any finding that can change or vary. Examples include anything that can be measured, such as the number of logging operations in Alabama.

Database: A collection of data organized for research and retrieval.

Best Bets for US Demographics

US Government Statistical Agencies

These federal agency programs collect, analyze, and disseminate statistical data and information.