Chapter 3 Stating and Refining the Question

Doing data analysis requires quite a bit of thinking and we believe that when you’ve completed a good data analysis, you’ve spent more time thinking than doing. The thinking begins before you even look at a dataset, and it’s well worth devoting careful thought to your question. This point cannot be over-emphasized as many of the “fatal” pitfalls of a data analysis can be avoided by expending the mental energy to get your question right. In this chapter, we will discuss the characteristics of a good question, the types of questions that can be asked, and how to apply the iterative epicyclic process to stating and refining your question so that when you start looking at data, you have a sharp, answerable question.