Descriptive Statistics

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Abstract

Statistics is defined by the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) thesaurus as the science and art of collecting, summarizing, and analyzing data that are subject to random variation. The two broad categories of summarizing and analyzing data are referred to as descriptive and inferential statistics. This chapter considers the science and art of summarizing data where descriptive statistics and graphics are used to display data. In this chapter, we discuss the fundamentals of descriptive statistics, including describing qualitative and quantitative variables. For describing quantitative variables, measures of location and spread, for example the standard deviation, are presented along with graphical presentations. We also discuss distributions of statistics, for example the variance, as well as the use of transformations. The concepts in this chapter are useful for uncovering patterns within the data and for effectively presenting the results of a project.