What is descriptive analysis?

18 de July de 2023

One of the approaches to the study and analysis of studies drawn from statistical methods is that of descriptive analysis. A type of approach in which data are analysed by describing them without a prior hypothesis to be falsified or not. What does descriptive analysis consist of?

Descriptive analysis in statistics

Statistics is the discipline in charge of studying the behaviour of entities and individuals, whether it involves observing social groups or scientific data sets.

In the case of descriptive analysis statistics, this type of methodology provides an approach whereby a summary of the information provided by the data of a sample is compiled. That is, its goal is to synthesise information for accuracy, simplicity, and to clarify and order the data.

For example, the census of people who attended the hospital in a given year or month is descriptive analysis. After collecting the data, the data will be presented through graphs or infographics describing the data.

What is the purpose of descriptive analysis?

Descriptive analysis provides an answer to a question asked at the beginning of the statistical deployment in order to:

  • Collect and order the information by means of graphs and visual aids.
  • Extract the most representative characteristics of a data collection.
  • Describe trends.

Descriptive analysis: keys and drawbacks

One of the main characteristics and benefits of descriptive analysis is that the researcher maintains a neutral position and does not manipulate the data due to personal bias. Thus, descriptive analysis has advantages:

  • It is an expansive method that delves very broadly into events.
  • It is a precise method for collecting information and then proceeding to describe the relationships between the data.
  • Thanks to this analysis, the researcher can come closer to understanding a problem or phenomenon. It is possible to find out features of the population using quantitative as well as qualitative information.

Among the disadvantages and negative points of this type of analysis:

  • When carrying out surveys as a method of data collection it must be taken into account that respondents may give untruthful answers, impacting on the quality of the analysis itself.
  • In order to obtain the data needed, the survey design must be appropriate and fit for purpose.
  • There is a danger of research bias due to the tendency to validate expected data and discard data that does not fit the previous study design. Ways must be found to incorporate these data into the analysis, even if they open up new questions to be answered.
  • Avoid generalising and building conclusions on the basis of a described case.

Thus, descriptive statistical analysis can proceed by applying variables to the data to shape the information and associate it through means, ratios, averages and proportions. To describe a trend or the characteristics of the population, a controlled sample is usually taken from the population and the conclusions extrapolated to the rest of the individuals.