Digital Humanities Workbench

Home page > Data analysis > Structured data analysis > Statistical analysis

Statistical analysis

Many types of research require that data are subjected to statistical analysis. In cases where this only leads to a quantitative description of the research data, we talk of descriptive statistics. When statistical analysis is used to test whether the results for a certain sample also apply to the population from which the sample is drawn, it is called inferential statistics. Statistical analysis often attempts to answer questions such as whether certain parameters are connected to each other, what type of connection links them and how strong the connection is.

The use of statistical analysis for research purposes has three aspects: (i) you need to know which statistical tests are required for the analysis of your data; (ii) you need to know how to work with the statistical program you are using; and (iii) you need to know how to interpret the results of the analyses. There are lots of ways to learn about these topics:

  • In our faculty you can take a course and a minor in Inferential Statistics.
  • There are also many books available on statistics. The book used in the faculty statistics course is Discovering statistics with SPSS by Andy Field.
  • For € 7.50 for you can get access to an online statistics course for students in higher education:
    Dr. Stat   
  • The Internet is, of course, a rich source of information on this topic, but before you use online information, always check its origin and its intended goal and target audience.


In general you are advised to conduct statistical analysis on complete data sets, consisting of all available observations. The program SPSS is the most popular tool for this type of analysis in our faculty. More information about SPSS.

If it is acceptable to carry out the analysis on combined or aggregate data (where groups of observations are replaced with summary statistics based on those observations), then you can often use a webcalculator. The website VassarStats: Website for Statistical Computation has an extensive collection of webcalculators for various statistical tests.


Faculty staff and students who have basic skills in statistical analysis, but who have additional questions on how to use certain techniques in the context of their research, can contact Dr Gerben Mulder for help (

Other topics in this section: Network analysis   Spatial and temporal analysis