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Descriptive statistics allow a researcher to quantify and describe the basic characteristics of a data set. As such, descriptive statistics serve as a starting point for data analysis, allowing researchers to organize, simplify, and summarize data. A data set, which contains hundreds or thousands of individual data points or observations, for example, can be condensed into a series of statistics that provide useful information on the population of interest. Moreover, descriptive statistics determine which advanced statistical tests are appropriate. Descriptive statistics do not allow the researcher to make presumptive conclusions about the population of interest, however, as this is reserved for more advanced, inferential statistics.

Descriptive statistics provide information along two main dimensions: measures of central tendency and measures of spread. In addition, it is also ...

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