Making sense of data
In this part of the book, we go on to look at different forms of analysis. Analysis is all about making sense of the data which have been collected, and there are different types of analysis depending on what it is that we are interested in and want to find out. If we want to look at people's descriptions of events that have happened in their lives, or their personal experiences, there would be very little point in trying to do so by converting the information into numbers, and conducting a quantitative analysis. We would lose so much information that what remained would really tell us very little.
But if we wanted to examine the acquisition of a specific skill, such as reading fluency, then adopting a research method which allowed us to convert the information into numbers and conducting a quantitative analysis would be much more useful. The analysis would allow us to look at our information objectively, and to see patterns in it which might not be apparent if we adopted a more qualitative approach.
A research psychologist, therefore, needs to have a good knowledge of analytical techniques, as well as a good knowledge of research methods. In the next few chapters, we will look at both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Familiarity with both quantitative and qualitative methods provides a psychologist with a versatile and wideranging psychological 'tool-kit'. Knowing when these techniques are appropriate and when they are not will allow a researcher to choose the best way of analysing the research data, no matter what sort of research project is involved.