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tabular presentation


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Quantitative social science results are most commonly presented in the form of an analytic table. Tables should fulfil two main criteria: they should be easy to read; and they should support the inference drawn by the analyst. All tables should have a clear self-explanatory title; give the number of cases on which the statistics are based; and should include only the critical information relevant to the point that the table illustrates.

The most basic type of analytic table is the percentage table. The simplest percentage table is the univariate type which presents the distribution of answers to a single question. A two-way (or two variable) table shows the relationship between a dependent and independent variable. For example, in the table, the hypothetical responses to a question ‘In general, how do you like sociology?’ are broken down by sex. These hypothetical data would illustrate that male students are more positive about sociology than are female students. In order to be sure that the difference is not simply due to sampling error it would be necessary also to include the associated significance test. However, no table can show whether or not the difference is of substantive importance, and the scientist must establish in the text why the results matter. See also contingency table.

Tabular presentation. Male and female attitudes to sociology

Men (%)

Women (%)

I like it very much

48

38

I like it somewhat

40

42

I dislike it

10

18

Don't Know

2

2

100

100

N =

(301)

(389)


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