# Australian Bureau of Statistics

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 Understanding statistics

 Module 3: Interpreting Data 1. Introduction and review 1.1 Review In Modules 1 and 2, you learned about ways of producing and representing data. In this module you will learn to critically examine the way that these data can be interpreted. For interpretations to be meaningful, it is necessary to know how the variables were defined and the method used to produce the data This is because it is only within a context that numbers become data. As you will remember, data are presented in tables and graphs because these are ways of clearly presenting important features and of highlighting patterns that exist in the data. Tables and graphs are effective vehicles for presenting the data to support an argument. So far most of the statistical ideas and tools we have studied in Module 1 and Module 2 can be referred to as descriptive statistics. That is, we considered how to plan for a study and collect data (almost always based on samples), and then how to describe (present) the results. What we now need is to understand how to interpret our sample results and how to apply these to the population from which we sampled. This is a second part of statistics - inferential statistics - we infer from the sample what the data suggests is true of the population.