Introduction to Quantitative Research Methods > Exploring Data

In this section we will learn some useful functions which will use for data exploration and manipulation. Also, we will familiarise ourselves with the measures of central tendency and understand how these can help us develop some simple descriptive statistics.

The most common measures of central tendency are the mean, median, and mode. These are the basic measures you will use when you are attempting to describe the data you are exploring. In simple words descriptive statistics such as the mean, median and mode provide summaries about your population sample.

Descriptive statistics are distinguished from inferential statistics. When you are using descriptive statistics you are only describing your data. With inferential statistics, you are trying to generalise from your sample about the whole population. For example, we use inferential statistics to infer what voters think about the current party in government.

So, we use inferential statistics to make inferences about the whole population and we use descriptive statistics to describe our data.