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Data and Statistics

About Data

Data are the raw materials that we use to generate knowledge from academic work. Data can be facts, observations and experiences, which, collected together and systematically analysed, can be used to make an argument or test a theory or hypothesis.

Data comes in different forms, it can be:

  • Numerical, or quantitative - for example measurements made in a laboratory experiment, or observations of footfall in shopping centre
  • Descriptive, or qualitative - such as interviews, written observations and notes, previous research, as well as contemporary, historical and literary primary sources

When you study at Birmingham Newman, you will use data in all of your academic work - even if it doesn't feel like that is what you are doing. The books and articles, laws, cases, policies you read and the websites that give you information on which you base your arguments are all data you are using to advance the argument in your assignment.

About Statistics

"Statistics" and "data" are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. While data are individual points of information, statistics have usually been collated, analysed, interpreted or presented in some way.

When you want to make an argument or demonstrate an action or effect in your assignment, it is most often not necessary to go out and do "primary data research" – that is, to collect your own raw data. Professional research is being carried out all the time by people and organisations who make their data and statistics available for others to use and interpret. Using data and statistics in this way is called "secondary data research". Used properly, statistical information can provide an extra dimension and add weight to your arguments, which in turn will improve your grades!

The Library has collected together links to some common, good quality statistical sources that are relevant to your course that you can access from this page.

In the future we will be adding more interactive learning materials to our data and statistics guide, so be sure to come back here as you progress through your course to see what's new!

Suggested sources

ONS statistics cover a range of different topics and subjects. As a Criminology student, you may wish to explore the following sections:

Last reviewed: 14 November 2023

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