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Research Tools - "Framing Statistics"
How to Best Use the Data Presented by the Center for Community Studies
The rationale behind providing so many analyses (statistics) for every survey question included in this study is that one never fully understands the information contained in a reported statistic without “framing” that statistic. Framing involves adding a more rich perspective to the value of some reported statistic. For example, when Jefferson County residents in April 2016 were asked the survey question, “When considering you or your family's personal financial situation has it gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse in the past 12 months?”, the result in the 2016 community study was that 25.2% of the participants responded with gotten better. So …. what does this 25.2% really mean? Often-times community-based researchers will describe the process of “framing” a statistic as completing as many as possible of the six following comparisons (frames) to better understand a reported statistic from a sample:
- Within Response Scale Distribution - (Is it a majority? 4:1 ratio? “Three times more likely to respond with “better” …. than “worse”?
- Trend Across Time - (Has it increased? Decreased?)
- Compare to a Regional Average - (Compare to some regional average, is the current statistic higher? Lower?)
- Compare to Target/Benchmark - (Compare to an agency or community’s goal or target?)
- Ranking Among Similar Variables - (Among many different similar locations, characteristics, options, or attributes, that all use the same response scale, is this specific item ranked first? last?)
- Cross-tabulations by Potential Explanatory Variables - (Different political ideological people differ in opinion or behavior? Age-dependent? Gender-dependent? Education-dependent? Income-dependent? Military-affiliation-dependent? Geography-dependent?)
The design of all final study reports of findings produced by the Center for Community Studies include all of the various types of analyses, tables, and graphical depictions that are necessary to allow community leaders to best “frame the statistics” included in the reports, to best understand the statistics included, and make best decisions in the future regarding how to use the statistics. If one has further questions about “framing a statistic” please contact the professional staff at the Center for Community Studies.