Presenting an entertaining and amusing Skills for Success session on quantitative methods, Joe Twyman, the YouGov representative, provided an insight into the world of statistics. He particularly focused on the reliability of statistics often presented to us, for example in the press.
The session began with a presentation involving an explanation and discussion of the validity of research. The presentation brought to light issues which may hinder the reliability of statistical sources, providing an overview of the factors that we should consider before believing and accepting reported research. Such aspects described included sample size, phrasing of survey questions, timing of surveys and the background of the commissioner of the research. In order to explain these factors of consideration, the presentation provided applied and real-life examples of statistics reported.
The second hour of the session involved working within small groups to identify the good, the bad and the ugly use of reported statistics from today’s newspapers. The activity therefore allowed us to critically evaluate the reported stats, taking into account the potential issues previously discussed in the presentation.
I admit, I did initially believe this session would focus more on the basics required to pass a numerical reasoning test, such as how to calculate a mean, or explaining the mathematical and statistical basics required to accept a position in the financial sector. However, whilst providing an overview of the use of these quantitative methods in an applied setting, I soon realised the requirement for quantitative methods in most, if not all, industries.
So what have I taken from the session? Primarily, the workshop has demonstrated and simply reminded me to delve a little deeper into the specifics and details of reported findings and surveys before accepting them to be true. Since I have recently begun a PhD, this was a very welcome reminder!
Emily (Social Science Student Blogger)