2.1 Setting the Scene

Before diving into the “epicycle of analysis,” it’s helpful to pause and consider what we mean by a “data analysis.” Although many of the concepts we will discuss in this book are applicable to conducting a study, the framework and concepts in this, and subsequent, chapters are tailored specifically to conducting a data analysis. While a study includes developing and executing a plan for collecting data, a data analysis presumes the data have already been collected. More specifically, a study includes the development of a hypothesis or question, the designing of the data collection process (or study protocol), the collection of the data, and the analysis and interpretation of the data. Because a data analysis presumes that the data have already been collected, it includes development and refinement of a question and the process of analyzing and interpreting the data. It is important to note that although a data analysis is often performed without conducting a study, it may also be performed as a component of a study.