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This is a general term for all sorts of comparisons of data. Each segment of data should have similar components if comparisons are to be made. Each segment of the data has usually been thoroughly analyzed before similarities and differences with other like data are sought. The comparison takes into account the context of the data, when it was collected, and from which sites. The comparative analysis seeks discrepancies between like data in context, and the apparent discrepancies are examined to see if they are structural or peculiar. Structural discrepancies become the source of fresh understandings of the data, usually leading to higher order conceptual organization of the overall data. Peculiar discrepancies are retained to see if and how they subsequently relate. The comparative

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