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Writing a statistics essay is quite different from the kind of essay writing you are probably used to, as it requires a completely different set of skills and competencies to successfully complete. Students excelling at all other types of essays may find themselves confused by its requirements, and vice versa, those usually struggling with their written assignments are often praised for the clarity and curtness of expression.
The primary goal of a statistics essay is to report the quantitative findings of research; beautiful turns of phrase and brilliant reasoning are far less important than the ability to present facts in a meaningful sequence and make logical conclusions based on them.
If you experience problems with your statistics essay writing, you’ve come to the right place – in this guide you will find all the information necessary to write your own texts of this type without any additional help.
Selecting a Topic
The most important characteristic of a topic you should look out for is that it should be firmly grounded in facts. If the subject matter is vague and unquantifiable, then it doesn’t suit your purposes. As for other characteristics of a good topic, consider:
- How much you already know about the issue in question. It is best to avoid topics you know absolutely nothing about. Not only will you have to do all your research from scratch if you choose one, but it may also turn out to be impossible to find solid proof at all;
- How much information on the topic there is. Do a background check on the topic you are about to choose. You may want to use an online academic database like Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic Search, EBSCO to name a few. These databases can be really helpful in finding sources of information on specific topics and, what is no less important, they usually show how many times this or that source has been referred to in peer-reviewed papers. It is a good indication of how trustworthy this or that source is;
- If you are interested in the topic. Gathering statistical data isn’t the most exciting pastime. Being genuinely interested in what you are writing about can make this task much more palatable;
- If it is possible to alter the topic. Sometimes, even when the assignment seems to be set in stone, it may be worth asking your instructor for some alterations. More often than not, your request will be granted, as long as it is reasonable.
Here are a few options you can use as examples:
Tired of all the guides and never-ending instructions?
- Is Life Possible on Mars Based on Currently Available Data;
- The Spread of Personal Transport in the First 10 Years after the Introduction of Ford Model T;
- Influence of Teaching Methods on Mindsets of Generations;
- Data Interpretation and Its Importance in Promoting the Growth of a Startup;
- Prior Exercise and Concentration of Blood Lactate.
As you can see, statistics can deal with virtually any area of human knowledge; so don’t be afraid of choosing a topic that looks unusual both to you and your instructor.
Writing up an Outline
Writing an essay without a clear-cut plan will lead to waste of time, effort and energy. Students who write following a plan they prepared beforehand complete their work faster, don’t forget to mention crucial details and write in a more structured and organized manner, getting better grades and enjoying a good reputation with their instructors as a result.
That’s why preparing an outline is a crucial step in writing any text, and it shouldn’t be omitted. Structurally, a statistics essay consists of the following parts:
- Introduction – usually, it serves the purpose of grasping and retaining the reader’s attention, and statistics essays are no different in this respect. However, you should take into account the nature of what you write – assignments of this kind have their grounding in facts, and your introduction should contain some leading up to the important statistical and factual data you are going to discuss;
- Thesis statement – the statement of the problem that led you to the research in question. More about it later;
- Body paragraphs – they should contain a detailed analysis of the statistical data produced by research;
- Conclusion – it contains the summary of your work and the conclusions you’ve come to.
Your essay may include these parts without individual headings, but if you want to make your paper easier to navigate you can add them.
Gathering the Sources of Information: Several Resources from Our Writers
Collecting your own data to write a statistics essay is usually not worth it. Data gathering is a complicated, extremely time-consuming and often thankless task, and an essay is usually too small an assignment to call for such investments of time and effort. Remember, the primary goal of statistics essay writing is to teach you how to analyze the information, not how to gather it, and it is exactly what the majority of your time should be dedicated to.
This means that the majority of your information will come from other sources: peer-reviewed papers, data sets, books, reports, articles, anywhere you can find it.
In addition to libraries and online databases, there are plenty of opportunities for getting reliable statistical information on the Internet. The exact places will vary depending on your discipline. For example, Pew Research Center is an excellent source of reports and statistics covering social trends both in the United States and abroad. Population Reference Bureau is a treasure trove of information on population, environment and health statistics. If you need information on more specific topics, there are plenty of resources covering narrower fields, like Uniform Crime Reporting (criminal justice), Homeland Security immigration statistics (immigration) or labor statistics by the Department of Labor.
As for other sources of information that don’t have a credible organization behind them, you have to be very careful about their credibility. Always check the following:
- Who is the author and what are his credentials? Is he a specialist in the topic he covers? Are there any other works by the same author on this topic?
- Is the author biased? Are there any indications of this (emotional language, author’s background or views, discrepancies between the article’s intended and real purpose)?
- What is the quality of other content from the same source?
- If the source comes from a website, what are its goals? Are there any advertisements? In what ways does the website make money?
- If you want to cite a particular passage, copy/paste it into Google to check if it appears elsewhere;
- Does the author cite his sources? Are the sources cited real? Does he provide proof for his statements?
Answering these questions will give you a good indication of whether a particular source can be trusted.
Introduction and Thesis Statement
You should start with a reason why you believe your topic to be worthy of research. For example, you may state that it is an area of established interest or, vice versa, belongs to a relatively new area of study. However, no matter how new and original the topic of your essay is, it cannot exist in isolation from the existing body of research – each essay should contain at least one reference to prior research on the subject related to its topic, and the introduction is a good place to mention it.
A thesis statement is, in short, a boiled-down version of your essay’s main idea. For example, if you study the correlations between the gross national product and literacy levels (the topic), your thesis statement may be something like “According to statistics, the greater gross national product per capita, the higher the literacy rate in the country”.
A thesis statement should come at the end of the introduction and meet the following requirements:
- Be no longer than two (better one) relatively short sentences;
- Be clear and unambiguous. You should be able to bring your entire idea to a single definite point. If you find it necessary to mention two or more points to explain what your essay is about, your topic is probably a bit unfocused and needs some further clarification;
- Be logically and smoothly connected to the preceding part of the introduction and the following body paragraph;
- Be relevant. After you finish your essay and proofread it, pay special attention to your thesis statement to make sure you haven’t drifted away from what you originally intended to write about.
Body Paragraphs and General Style
Body paragraphs serve to either prove or disprove the hypothesis you’ve mentioned in your thesis statement through facts and their analysis. A hypothesis is an assertion that isn’t initially supported by facts but gains credibility in the course of attempts to disprove it. Of course, it is more fulfilling to propose and support a hypothesis you find true after testing it, but it may be an interesting intellectual exercise to do exactly the opposite: propose a hypothesis and refute it on your own. Remember: whether the body of evidence ends up supporting or disproving your hypothesis by itself doesn’t influence your grade, only the quality of your research work does.
Here are some general statistics essay writing tips you should take into account when writing your body paragraphs:
- The style of statistics essays is usually quite formal – there is no place to exclamation marks, ellipses, emotional language, contractions and, of course, slang and jargon. Sentences are matter-of-fact and are only concerned with transferring information in the most efficient way possible. That’s why you shouldn’t worry too much about such stylistic aspects as a tautology – on the contrary, use the same word to refer to a concept throughout your essay, it will help to make it easier to understand;
- When you quote something, make sure you do it accurately and don’t change the source material. Also, make it obvious that it is a quotation and not your own words, otherwise you may be accused of plagiarism;
- Use paragraphs as primary units of meaning. One paragraph should contain no more than a single point in support of your hypothesis plus a few pieces of supporting evidence;
- Connect paragraphs with transition words and phrases to ensure the logical connection between the parts of your essay;
- Differentiate between primary and secondary sources and don’t rely on the latter too much. Secondary sources are the those that are cited in primary ones. If you like a quotation, either quote it with a phrase ‘as cited in’, or find it the original source and read it. Never quote sources you haven’t read as if you did.
Here you summarize your research and provide a link to the broader problem you’ve mentioned in the introduction. There isn’t much to say about this part – you simply provide a short summary of your work and conclusions you’ve come to. Did your research support or refute your initial hypothesis? If your hypothesis was supported, how applicable your theory is (how much variance does it cover?)? Answer these questions, and your conclusion will be alright.
If you don’t neglect the proofreading stage, your chances of getting a good grade greatly increase – students often miss mistakes, both grammatical and stylistic, while they write and reread their essay immediately after finishing it.
- If there is any time until the submission date, let your essay lie for at least a few days before proofreading it;
- Get a few other people to read it for you – the author is always subjective towards his own work and tends to miss things;
- Check if the essay’s structure works as intended: all parts perform their functions, there are obvious transitions between paragraphs, each paragraph contains but a single point, etc.;
- Check if all your arguments are relevant for your hypothesis;
- Check if your arguments have any weak spots and address them;
- Make sure you are critical when reviewing the evidence and present all the points of view on the subject;
- Make sure your writing doesn’t show any signs of biased opinions.
Writing a statistics essay may be quite unlike anything else you did in the course of your academic career, but with the help of this statistics essay writing guide, you will be able to acquire the necessary experience to deal with it just as easily as with any assignment you are used to.