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Quantitative data analysis Toolbox

5.1 Answering your initial questions

In section 2.4. How do I get started with my analysis, you were advised to think carefully about the insights you hoped to gain from your analysis, even before you start collecting data.

Now that you have your data and have done some initial descriptive analysis, we recommend that you go back to your analysis plan and answer the questions it asks.

In our case study, the research questions were as follows:

  1. What are the demographics of the population in terms of age, gender and dependency ratio?
  2. What are the most common unmet household basic needs due to lack of affordability and do households have multiple concurrent unmet needs?
  3. What proportion of the population has access to improved WASH services and does it vary by region?
  4. Do households have access to food security assistance, and does it vary by region?
  5. What is the rate of food (in)security among households, and does it vary by region or access to food security assistance?
  6. What are the primary sources of food among households and do households have access to markets?

As you can see from the analysis plan, we have tried to provide evidence towards answer these specific questions according to a number of different variables and types of analysis. Subsequently, the analysis tabs show the calculations and results of the analysis put forward in the analysis plan (including Excel syntax that you can review and apply).

If needed for reporting, you can answer the research questions in narrative form through describing the findings of the analysis. For example, for Question 2 could be answered as follows (‘What are the most common unmet household basic needs due to lack of affordability and do households have concurrent unmet needs?’):

Among the sample respondents, ‘saving money’, ‘health costs’ and ‘education’ were selected most frequently as the basic needs households cannot afford, at 88%, 67% and 65% respectively. The basic needs selected the least as unaffordable by households were ‘hygiene items, clothes, shoes’, ‘firewood/fuel’ and ‘water’, at 38%, 14% and 12%, respectively.

The survey further indicates that multiple basic needs are unaffordable concurrently for the sample population. Only 12% of the sample stated that the household basic needs were met. On average the sample household stated 5.4 household needs as unaffordable. However, the most commonly selected number of selected unaffordable basic needs by households was 9 (the mode was selected by 15 of the 92 household respondents).

Note: Selecting a need as unaffordable does not indicate the severity of the impacts of the need being unaffordable on households.

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What if I can’t answer my initial research questions from my data?

In some cases, the data or analysis findings may not help you answer your initial research questions. This could occur due to various factors, such as questions being over ambitions, poor quality data, or maybe a lack of understanding of the context or themes being studied.

Try to understand what would be needed to understand what you would need to complete your analysis: more time, better or more data, better understanding of the context (etc.)? Doing so will help you determine the next course of action.