You'll be happy to know that writing in statistics doesn't actually require much writing at all. Compared to literature-based subjects, the wealth of content that goes into statistics is considerably less-which is a good thing for mathematical minds not to fond of writing. Primarily, when formulating a statistics paper, report, or other document, emphasis is generally placed on the representation of data rather than written explanations of it.
Before you embark on your statistical journey and prepare a written report. a few key things need to be nailed down, for instance; (1) figuring out what to study, (2) identifying who you're writing for, (3) your main objective and purpose, (4) and how you can best present your data.
The first step, in most cases, involves selecting suitable variables to investigate. In some cases this information may be predetermined by an instructor or professor but otherwise students are expected to come up with great, original ideas to on their own.
Selecting a great topic
When selecting a topic for a statistics project
its good to first consider the limitations of your sources. Ask yourself some helpful questions.
- What kind of investigation am I able to conduct?
- Do I have the funds and assistance to follow through with an in depth primary investigation?
- Will I be relying solely on databases for data?
Afterwards consider what makes a good topic. Generally a great topic is one that is...
- narrow and comprehensive
- has results that are attainable
- shows a good comparison of things
- interesting and creative
- can be proven using statistical analyses.
A very important and sometimes overlooked quality is that your statistical question should be creative! There are so many intriguing questions that can be asked-so why not put in a little effort and go for something that will not only grab people's attention but add something to the field that it is a part of.
*EXAMPLE: With the incidence of eating disorders, much attention has been placed on the body image concerns of women. Simply comparing what women ages 14-25 think of their bodies as compared to women 26-45 may not be as compelling as a question that considers geographic location (such as which places harbor women with the lowest or highest self-esteem) as well as analyzing younger age ranges, such as girls under the age of 14. By doing this you will likely add more depth and interest to your topic by including a unique age and specific location.
Advice on audience and purpose
For statistical writing its important to know who you are writing for. Primarily because the audience may or may not be familiar with statistical terms and procedures. If writing to be published in an outside medium, such as a mainstream magazine for example, clarity and word usage can definitely be an issue. But generally speaking, if for an academic project/assignment terms need not be explained and defined.
Secondly the purpose of your writing will likely be to inform or explain. Even though there are many situations in which statistics are used to persuade; this is usually found in non-scientific essays
or papers and not statistical reports. Likewise, how you present your data can
definitely influence perception-so take this into consideration.
Tips for creating an outline
Before preparing your report its suggested to create a brief outline to guide you along. Statistical outlines are generally the same as any other scientific report. The only difference may be that instead of separating the methods, results, and discussion sections into their own categories, all of these topics are addressed in the analysis section. Likewise, in statistical reporting you may or may not expand on any related concepts and theories as with other disciplines.
Should generally be under 300 words and include your research question, experimental design, results or findings and a few points from your conclusion
When reporting findings in your abstract try and stick to those that are directly connected to your statistical question
Introduction and Synopsis
Optional to combine your introduction with your summary; if combined your introduction thus should resemble your abstract in many respects
Differs from the abstract in that it should provide additional information such as the source of your data (surveys, database) and more detail on the problem and its significance
You may have different types of analysis that were conducted so think about how you want to present your data and choose an appropriate organizational structure. For instance you may want to interpret each one separately in its own section.
Methods-Explain your statistical methodology. Include materials used such as surveys, questionnaires or software. Describe your subject (i.e. the type of people you selected), the structure of your experiment (how many people you studied, what variables were considered etc.) and how you went about collecting the data
Results-Relate your findings using graphs and charts. You may want to write out some things but use your judgment in deciding which information will be better represented by text or by graphics
Discussion-Interpret your results. What new information did you learn about the sample that you selected? Was your hypothesis correct? How might you restructure your question knowing what you know now?
Summarize your findings and revisit your original problem and hypothesis. Reflect on what the results indicate for the topic that was selected and any final thoughts or implications for further research.
Do include an appendix if you have relevant data that does not work well into your report. Its likely that you will have accumulated a lot of data but remember only to include them if necessary.
Additional must-have writing tips
- Use mathematical notations whenever possible as they require less writing and are short and to the point.
- Remember to always relay the mean and standard deviation
- Label any and all graphics to make things easier on the reader. When writing refer to those graphics using their designated title, such as Figure 1.
- Avoid including computer code in your report unless there is a need for it.
- Keep your sentences short and concise when explaining data, assume that the reader is familiar with the common test such as ANOVA etc.(unless writing for a foreign audience).
- Explain any unclear information, don't assume that the reader is in your head.
- Try very hard to not be repetitive-this may be hard with all of the data that is being collected, but repetitiveness can be confusing and frustrating to the reader.
- Statistical writing is not the most elegant writing, so don't try too hard to 'wow' your audience with words, but be more concerned about accurately defining your problem and presenting your findings.
Writing doesn't seem to have much a place in statistics-but it is essential to interpreting and making sense of collected data. Your main objective is to do a good job of educating your audience on what you found and how you found it. While also making sure that your methods are clear and can be easily duplicated by the reader if necessary. Hopefully this, along with a bit of creative and style, should leave readers more than satisfied with your statistical report.