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Just Plain Data Analysis

Finding, Presenting, and Interpreting Social Science Data, 2nd Edition

Gary M. Klass

Just Plain Data Analysis teaches students statistical literacy skills that they can use to evaluate and construct arguments about public affairs issues grounded in numerical evidence. The book addresses skills that are often not taught in introductory social science research methods courses and that are often covered sketchily in the research methods textbooks: where to find commonly used measures of political and social conditions; how to assess the reliability and validity of specific indicators; how to present data efficiently in charts and tables; how to avoid common misinterpretations and misrepresentations of data; and how to evaluate causal arguments based on numerical data. With a new chapter on statistical fallacies and updates throughout the text, the new edition teaches students how to find, interpret, and present commonly used social indicators in an even clearer and more practical way. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 202Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/4
978-1-4422-1507-8 • Hardback • April 2012 • $80.00 • (£49.95)
978-1-4422-1508-5 • Paperback • April 2012 • $24.95 • (£15.95)
978-1-4422-1509-2 • eBook • April 2012 • $23.99 • (£14.95)
Gary M. Klass teaches public policy, race and ethnicity, and quantitative research methods at Illinois State University. He is past president of the APSA Computers and Multimedia Section and co-editor of the Political Science Research and Teaching List.
Chapter 1: Measuring Political, Social and Economic Conditions
Chapter 2: Measuring Racial and Ethnic Inequality
Chapter 3: Statistical Fallacies, Paradoxes and Threats to Validity
Chapter 4: Examining a Relationship: New York City Crime Rates
Chapter 5: Tabulating the Data and Writing about the Numbers
Chapter 6: The Graphical Display of Data
Chapter 7: Voting and Elections
Chapter 8: Measuring Educational Achievement
Chapter 9: Measuring Poverty and Inequality
This short book is a useful supplement to traditional statistics and research method texts....Recommended.

In Just Plain Data Analysis, Gary Klass analyzes simple statistics that involve sophisticated reasoning. This book cuts through paradoxes, fallacies and socially-constructed statistics to uncover the basic elements of data analysis. A must-read for anyone interested in statistical literacy.
Milo Schield, director of the W. M. Keck Statistical Literacy Project, Augsburg College

As a teacher of research methods, I have been waiting for a book like Just Plain Data Analysis. By focusing on finding, presenting and interpreting data, Klass encourages students to develop the critical thinking skills that they will need once they leave the university. The writing is clear and the examples are excellent. The discussion of reliability, validity, and ecological fallacy is the best I have read in an undergraduate text. The many table and chart examples will help students improve their skills.
Bill Wilkerson, College at Oneonta, SUNY

With humor and political balance, Just Plain Data Analysis offers a pithy guide to finding, presenting and interpreting social science data ranging from crime to elections. Recommended for students, teachers and policymakers who want to understand where the data comes from and how to use it responsibly.
Mark Maier, author of The Data Game: Controversies in Social Science Statistics

Just Plain Data Analysis: Finding, Presenting, and Interpreting Social Science by Gary M. Klass is an exploration of the types of quantitative research (which is rooted in data and statistical analysis) that can be used to draw conclusions about such social science issues as crime rates and measuring educational achievement. Klass uses examples of statistical claims to demonstrate how changing the time frame for data collection or looking at different correlations can result in varying or misleading statements. He also has chapters to how to tabulate and display numbers and how to use graphical presentation effectively.
American Libraries

Organization of This Book
Chapter 1 begins with a discussion of the construction and practical uses of social indicator data and the analysis of the reliability and validity of the measures.

Chapter 2, addressing the measurement of racial and ethnic inequality, is intended to provide examples of the variety of indicators that are available and that can be used to measure conditions associated with income and wealth, health care, education, and crime and punishment.

Chapter 3, containing a series of statistical fallacies, paradoxes, and threats to validity, is the most significant addition to the second edition of this book.

Chapter 4 applies the framework of fallacies, paradoxes, and Campbell and Ross’s threats to validity to an analysis of the effect of the Rudi Giuliani mayoralty on New York City crime rates.
Chapters 5 and 6 illustrate many of the basic principles of the art and science of data presentation in tables and charts and contain several examples of bad tabular and graphic design.

Chapters 7, 8, and 9 apply and illustrate the principles of the earlier chapters in more detail, focusing on the topics of voting, education, and poverty. Each of these chapters begins with a discussion of comparative international statistical measures, followed by U.S. data, and ends with evaluations of specific examples of a data-based argument.

A companion website for this text (http://pol.illinoisstate.edu/jpda/) contains hyperlinks to all the spreadsheet files used to construct the tables and charts, complete citations for the original data sources, and links to the data sources.

All of the charts prepared for this book were constructed with the 2011 version of Microsoft Excel® charting software. Some charting functions shown on the charts, particularly the boxplots and the data labels shown on the scatterplots, did require the use of free downloadable add-ins. The companion website contains links to those add-ins and instructions, tips, and tricks for using Excel to do the things demonstrated in the book.