Definitions of Unit of Analysis
Example of Unit of Analysis
- Each individual is the unit of analysis for the United States census that happens every ten years (decennially).
Unit of Analysis Pronunciation
Syllabification: u·nit of a·nal·y·sis
- American English – /yOO-nuht uhv uh-nAl-uh-sis/
- British English – /yOO-nit UHv uh-nAl-i-sis/
International Phonetic Alphabet
- American English – /ˈjunət ʌv əˈnæləsəs/
- British English – /ˈjuːnɪt ɒv əˈnæləsɪs/
- Plural: units of analysis
- Almost anything can be a unit of analysis. Sociology typically focuses on the behaviors, norms, and values of individuals and groups.
- A study can have more than one unit of analysis. For example, if one wants to know which university degree provides the highest income potential and which school’s specific department provides the highest income potential, the two units of analysis here are universities and students.
- Not to be confused with a unit of observation which is what research data describes. Using the example above, in the United States census the individual is the unit of analysis but the entire country is the unit of observation.
- If a unit of analysis is not properly defined, it can cause an ecological fallacy.
- Also called experimental unit.
- “Categorizing possible units of analysis may make the concept seem more complicated than it needs to be. What you call a given unit of analysis—is irrelevant. The key is to be clear about what your unit of analysis is. When you embark on a research project, you must decide whether you’re studying marriages or marriage partners, crimes or criminals, corporations or corporate executives. Otherwise you run the risk of drawing invalid conclusions because your assertions about one unit of analysis are actually based on the examination of another” (Babbie 2011:107).
- Quantitative Research Resources – Books, Journals, and Helpful Links
- Word origin of “unit” and “analysis” – Online Etymology Dictionary: etymonline.com
- qualitative research
- quantitative research
- statistical analysis
Babbie, Earl R. 2011. The Basics of Social Research. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unit of analysis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved September 30, 2023 (https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/).
APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)
unit of analysis. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/
Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)
Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unit of analysis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed September 30, 2023. https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/.
MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)
“unit of analysis.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 30 Sep. 2023. <https://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/>.