Data, Statistics, and Parameters

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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Descriptive Statistics. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Data, Statistics, and Parameters

Raw information collected from an experiment or test is called data. However, it would be very impractical and difficult to list all of one's data in a report, and the reader would have a hard time making sense of it anyway. Therefore, researchers commonly report just a few numbers, called statistics, which attempt to capture all of the essential information about the whole data set.

Common statistics include the mean, the standard deviation, the median, the maximum, and the minimum. The statistics you use will depend on the kind of data being studied.

A parameter is a property of the population, and since you cannot measure all of the members of a population, you cannot measure a parameter directly. You can, however, make inferences about a parameter, based on your statistics.