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Quantitative data analysis Toolbox

2.4.1 Identifying the questions driving your analysis

Think about what insights you want to get out of your data analysis. It is important to remember that your data won’t speak for itself. It can be helpful to think about things with reference to the pyramid below, which demonstrates the hierarchical relationship beginning with data and ending with wisdom.

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Asking meaningful questions of your data and answering these questions via a well-planned analysis will help you create wisdom/insight that can inform your decision making or address your problem at hand.

A well-framed question will help you throughout your whole analysis process; from selecting data sources to evaluating data quality to creating visualizations.

For example, imagine that you have been tasked with providing information about the number and location of individuals impacted by a recent flood. You might then reframe this as a series of questions:

  • Which settlements in the country are impacted by floods?
  • What is the total population of all settlements that have been impacted by flooding?

The more specific you can be in your questions, the clearer your analysis will be.

Our case study has a list of 6-specific questions that have been used to guide the analysis plan, tool development, and subsequent data analysis.

One of the research questions specifically aims to provide the team with insights into household access to basic needs (food, water, housing costs, etc.). The question aims to assist the team with determining potential gaps in humanitarian assistance and/or potential further sectors/modalities of intervention.

We need to first define ‘access’ in a concrete way to ensure the subsequent data collection and analysis is clear and meaningful. We have done so by defining access in terms of ‘affordability’, whereby we can then ask households which basic need the household is unable to afford. The relevant research question is: “What are the most common unmet household basic needs due to lack of affordability and do households have multiple concurrent unmet needs?”

To answer the research question, the survey question is: “Which of your household’s basic needs can you not afford?”

Survey respondents are asked to select any options that apply to their household, with potential selections being made up of a list of household basic needs based on qualitative review.