# Australian Bureau of Statistics

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 Understanding statistics

Module 1: Producing Data

3. Sources of data > 3.2 Generating your own data > 3.2.1 Understanding population and sample

i. Population

Some examples of populations include:

• students enrolled at the University of Wollongong;
• substandard dwellings in NSW ;
• entry scores of students entering the University of Wollongong.

In studies designed to generate data, populations are generally thought of as being stable and unchanging. This allows researchers to make inferences about a population based on the data that they have generated as the result of a study because they assume that the population has not changed over the course of the study.

The difference between a population and a unit

Identify the population and the unit in the following scenarios.

 Scenario A survey was conducted to answer the question of which important skills Australian university graduates had developed while they were studying at university.

 Test your knowledge Question The unit is: a) A response to a survey question b) A specific Australian university graduate c) A specific Australian university d) A count of the responses of Australian university students Answer Click here for answers

 Scenario Samples of water are taken from a river over a one week period, at random times and locations, both downstream and upstream from a nearby town, to establish the effect of activities in the town on the acidity of the river.

 Test your knowledge Question In this example the population is: a) A sample of water b) A town c) A local river d) Activities in the town Answer Click here for answers

 Test your knowledge Question The unit is: a) A sample of water b) One week period c) The local river d) Random times and locations Answer Click here for answers a) A sample of water
We define a specific population in terms of the information that we want to obtain. If we want to make claims about all university students in Australia, then that becomes our population, even if we only collect our data from one university.