unit of analysis

1. (noun) Who or what is being studied during research.

2. (noun) The basic element of research.

Example: Each individual is the unit of analysis for the United States census that happens every ten years (decennially).

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Usage Notes:

  • 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 you want to know which university degree provides the highest income potential but also want to know which school’s specific depart provides the highest income potential you have two units of analysis: students and universities.
  • 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.
  • Units of Analysis – Ashley Crossman: About.com

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How to Cite the Definition of Unit of Analysis

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “unit of analysis.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved December 19, 2018 (http://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 http://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 December 19, 2018. http://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“unit of analysis.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 19 Dec. 2018. <http://sociologydictionary.org/unit-of-analysis/>.