descriptive statistics

(noun) The branch of statistics that describes, organizes, and summarizes quantitative data in a clear and concise way either graphically or numerically.

Example: A bar graph depicting the average income of a male from the United States over several decades using data from the Internal Revenue Service.

Audio Pronunciation: (de·scrip·tive sta·tis·tics)

Download Audio Pronunciation: descriptive statistics.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Descriptive statistics summarize data by graphing or using numbers.
  • Descriptive statistics differs from inferential statistics in that descriptive statistics summarize a sample and inferential statistics uses the sample to make extrapolations about the larger population the sample represents.

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Works Consulted

Babbie, Earl. 2013. The Practice of Social Research. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bryman, Alan. 2012. Social Research Methods. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Burdess, Neil. 2010. Starting Statistics: A Short, Clear Guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Cramer, Duncan, and Dennis Howitt. 2004. The SAGE Dictionary of Statistics: A Practical Resource for Students in the Social Sciences. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Farlex. (N.d.) TheFreeDictionary.com: Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus. Farlex. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/).

Fioramonti, Lorenzo. 2014. How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics. London: Zed Books.

Larson, Ron, and Elizabeth Farber. 2015. Elementary Statistics: Picturing the World. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson.

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Salkind, Neil J., ed. 2007. Encyclopedia of Measurement and Statistics. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

Stolley, Kathy S. 2005. The Basics of Sociology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Taylor & Francis. (N.d.) Routledge Handbooks Online. (https://www.routledgehandbooks.com/).

Weinstein, Jay A. 2010. Applying Social Statistics: An Introduction to Quantitative Reasoning in Sociology. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (https://en.wikipedia.org/).

Wiley. (N.d.) Wiley Online Library. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/).

How to Cite the Definition of Descriptive Statistics

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “descriptive statistics.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved July 18, 2019 (http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

descriptive statistics. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “descriptive statistics.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed July 18, 2019. http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“descriptive statistics.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 18 Jul. 2019. <http://sociologydictionary.org/descriptive-statistics/>.