Tips to Keep in Mind When Writing with Statistics

  • Context is key!
  • Statistics should never be used as standalone facts
  • Always be specific about what you are reporting:
    • Did you calculate this statistic, or did you get it from an outside source?
      • If you calculated it, how did you calculate it?
      • If you got it from an outside source, what source did you get it from? Do you know how they calculated it?
    • How was the data collected?
      • Are there any possible issues with this method (introduced biases, misrepresentation, etc.)?
      • Can/should this statistic be generalized to the entire population? Why/why not?
    • Always provide an interpretation of what this statistic means in terms of the question you are trying to answer or the population you are trying to understand better
    • Never alter or manipulate data to better fit the conclusion you want to get

For more information on incorporating statistics into all types of writing, visit theĀ Purdue OWL Writing With Statistics (new tab) webpage.