You are on page 1of 5

Data Analysis Directions

Why should I complete a data analysis?

The goal of analyzing data is to communicate trends and results. Analyzing data determines the
extent to which your hypothesized relationship does or does not exist.

How is the data analysis different from the conclusion?

The data analysis explains the data collected, measures of central tendency, variation that exists,
and observations from the experiment. The conclusion explains why the data turned out the way
it did based on research and other studies, and also analyzes experimental and human error.

Where does the data analysis go in my lab report?

The data analysis, which can also be called the results section, goes after the procedure. The data
analysis includes the data tables, graphs, and a written report of the findings. It goes just before
the conclusion, which can also be called the discussion.

When is the data analysis due? __________________________

What steps should I follow to analyze my data?

1. Enter the raw data into Excel. Raw data are the numbers you recorded for each trial, for
each responding variable you measured. Remember to write a title that includes units. Be
sure to save to your home computer and school account. Do not rely on a flash drive as
the only storage location.
2. Think about the type of data you have. Do you have qualitative or quantitative data? Do
you have continuous, discrete, ratio, or interval quantitative data? Do you have nominal
or ordinal qualitative data?

Write your type(s) of data here: ____________________________________________

3. Decide which measure of central tendency to use (mean, median, mode).
4. Decide which measure of variation to use (range, frequency distribution, standard
deviation). Remember that standard deviation is a more sophisticated way of calculating
uncertainty. Also remember WHY we need to examine variation from U1C1 (as
scientists, we can never obtain an exact value). Use the below chart to help you decide.

Type of Data Central Tendency Variation
Quantitative Mean Range
Standard Deviation
Qualitative (ordinal) Median Frequency Distribution
Qualitative (nominal) Mode Frequency Distribution

5. Using formulas in Excel, calculate your measure of central tendency and variation. Or, if
you’ve already calculate the values, simply type them into the cells.

Last updated 11/23/10 by Megan Wahl 1
How to calculate values using formulas:

Every formula must be entered exactly as follows OR you can click Insert- Function and
choose from a list.

=AVERAGE(include the cells) ex: =AVERAGE(B2:B6)
=MODE(include the cells)
=MEDIAN(include the cells)
=STDEV(include the cells) (STDEV is standard deviation, the “fancy” uncertainty)

To find the range you have to find the MAX (highest number) and MIN (lowest number) first.

=MAX(include the cells)
=MIN(include the cells)
=(click on the cell with the MAX value – click on the cell with the MIN value)
ex: =(B13-B14)

Once you have a formula correctly entered you can highlight the other cells you want to copy
that formula to and select Edit-Fill- and then down or right.

If you see a green triangle in the corner try adding a row (insert-row) in between any words
and your numbers.

6. Next, paste the calculated measures of central tendency and variation for each value of
your MV in the tab you labeled “data analysis”. It will be easier to graph if you arrange it
that way. Below is an example:

The Effect of Type of Metal on the Rust Grown on a Nail

Type of Metal Average weight of rust in grams
Iron 0.0456
Copper 0.0023
Nickel 0.0017
Tin 0.0004

7. Using your data analysis tab, highlight both columns, one is the values of your MV and
one is the central tendency of all the trials, and then click on Insert-Chart

The most important information to graph is the central tendency for each value of your MV.
Your graph should tell the story of what happened in your experiment. Other graphs, such as
growth over time, may be useful to explain your data as well. Your MV must always be on
the x-axis and the RV on the y-axis (remember DRY MIX). Use the graphing checklist to
help you.

Last updated 11/23/10 by Megan Wahl 2
From this one graph you can actually explain what happened in your experiment. Can you tell
which type of metal grew the most rust? I bet a science fair judge could tell as well. Save this
chart as a new sheet, and then title the sheet average graph.

8. You will need to make another graph to show variation. To do this, you will repeat the same
process as above:
Using your data analysis tab, highlight both columns, one is the values of your MV and one
is the central tendency of all the trials, and then Insert-Chart.
When you are in Step 2 of the Chart Wizard, you will select Rows instead of Columns, with bars
of different colors:


Last updated 11/23/10 by Megan Wahl 3
9. Enter your variation data (for example, standard deviation) into your graph as error bars.
To do this, double-click on one of the bars.

Click on Y Error Bars

At the bottom, click on custom
and put the standard deviation
into the + and – boxes

Click okay

Repeat for each bar, which
represents each value of your

Remember to save your graphs as sheets and rename them so you can find them. Save often.

Examine your results
carefully. Try explaining them
to a friend or a family
member. Explain what the
error bars mean. Remember
that standard deviation is like
uncertainty. If the error bars
overlap, no conclusion can
be drawn because the true
value could be anywhere
within the range of values in
the error bar.

Last updated 11/23/10 by Megan Wahl 4
8. Complete the graphing checklist below. Have a friend or parent complete it as well.

9. When you are sure your data tables and graphs are error-free, take screen shots (shift-
apple-4) and paste the pictures into a word document. You will need to give each table
and graph a formal name, such as Table 1, Graph 1, Table 2, and so on.

10. Begin writing about your data- use the Rough Draft organizer to help you plan.

11. Use the example and rubric provided to help you revise your work to meet or exceed the

Visit the wiki for examples and tips:

Last updated 11/23/10 by Megan Wahl 5