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Why NVivo Is the Leading Choice for Qualitative Data Analysis Among Researchers

Qualitative data analysis can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with large sets of data. This is where NVivo comes in handy. NVivo is a software package designed to assist researchers in analyzing qualitative data. In this article, we will discuss why NVivo is the leading choice for qualitative data analysis among researchers.

What is NVivo?

NVivo is a software tool developed by QSR International that helps researchers organize and analyze their qualitative data. The software provides a range of features and tools that assist researchers in managing complex data sets, including text, audio, video, and images.

Features of NVivo

One of the key features of NVivo is its ability to handle different types of data formats. The software can handle text-based documents such as emails, interviews, focus group transcripts, and surveys. It also supports multimedia files such as videos and audio recordings.

Another feature that makes NVivo stand out is its coding capabilities. The software allows users to code their data using different methods such as thematic or content analysis. This feature streamlines the process of identifying patterns or themes within the data set.

NVivo also has advanced search capabilities that allow users to search for specific keywords or phrases within their data set quickly. Additionally, it has visualization tools that enable users to create graphs and charts to present their findings visually.

Benefits of Using NVivo

The benefits of using NVivo are numerous. Firstly, it saves time by automating many aspects of the research process; this includes transcribing audio recordings and coding text-based documents.

Secondly, it increases accuracy by reducing errors associated with manual transcription or coding processes; this means that researchers can trust their results more confidently.

Thirdly, it enables collaboration between team members working on a project from different locations; this feature allows individuals to work on the same project simultaneously, increasing productivity.

Lastly, NVivo provides a range of support resources. This includes online tutorials, webinars, and user forums that connect users with other researchers who use the software.

In conclusion, NVivo is an essential tool for researchers looking to analyze qualitative data. Its features and capabilities make it the leading choice for handling complex data sets across a range of disciplines. The benefits of using NVivo include increased accuracy, time-saving automation, collaboration capabilities, and access to support resources. With NVivo, researchers can analyze their data more efficiently and effectively than ever before.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


research analysis types

8 Types of Data Analysis

research analysis types

Data analysis is an aspect of  data science and data analytics that is all about analyzing data for different kinds of purposes. The data analysis process involves inspecting, cleaning, transforming and modeling data to draw useful insights from it.

What Are the Different Types of Data Analysis?

  • Descriptive analysis
  • Diagnostic analysis
  • Exploratory analysis
  • Inferential analysis
  • Predictive analysis
  • Causal analysis
  • Mechanistic analysis
  • Prescriptive analysis

With its multiple facets, methodologies and techniques, data analysis is used in a variety of fields, including business, science and social science, among others. As businesses thrive under the influence of technological advancements in data analytics, data analysis plays a huge role in  decision-making , providing a better, faster and more efficacious system that minimizes risks and reduces  human biases .

That said, there are different kinds of data analysis catered with different goals. We’ll examine each one below.

Two Camps of Data Analysis

Data analysis can be divided into two camps, according to the book  R for Data Science :

  • Hypothesis Generation — This involves looking deeply at the data and combining your domain knowledge to generate hypotheses about why the data behaves the way it does.
  • Hypothesis Confirmation — This involves using a precise mathematical model to generate falsifiable predictions with statistical sophistication to confirm your prior hypotheses.

Types of Data Analysis

Data analysis can be separated and organized into types, arranged in an increasing order of complexity.

1. Descriptive Analysis

The goal of descriptive analysis is to describe or summarize a set of data. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Descriptive analysis is the very first analysis performed in the data analysis process.
  • It generates simple summaries about samples and measurements.
  • It involves common, descriptive statistics like measures of central tendency, variability, frequency and position.

Descriptive Analysis Example

Take the  Covid-19 statistics page on Google, for example. The line graph is a pure summary of the cases/deaths, a presentation and description of the population of a particular country infected by the virus.

Descriptive analysis is the first step in analysis where you summarize and describe the data you have using descriptive statistics, and the result is a simple presentation of your data.

More on Data Analysis: Data Analyst vs. Data Scientist: Similarities and Differences Explained

2. Diagnostic Analysis 

Diagnostic analysis seeks to answer the question “Why did this happen?” by taking a more in-depth look at data to uncover subtle patterns. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Diagnostic analysis typically comes after descriptive analysis, taking initial findings and investigating why certain patterns in data happen. 
  • Diagnostic analysis may involve analyzing other related data sources, including past data, to reveal more insights into current data trends.  
  • Diagnostic analysis is ideal for further exploring patterns in data to explain anomalies.  

Diagnostic Analysis Example

A footwear store wants to review its website traffic levels over the previous 12 months. Upon compiling and assessing the data, the company’s marketing team finds that June experienced above-average levels of traffic while July and August witnessed slightly lower levels of traffic. 

To find out why this difference occurred, the marketing team takes a deeper look. Team members break down the data to focus on specific categories of footwear. In the month of June, they discovered that pages featuring sandals and other beach-related footwear received a high number of views while these numbers dropped in July and August. 

Marketers may also review other factors like seasonal changes and company sales events to see if other variables could have contributed to this trend.   

3. Exploratory Analysis (EDA)

Exploratory analysis involves examining or exploring data and finding relationships between variables that were previously unknown. Here’s what you need to know:

  • EDA helps you discover relationships between measures in your data, which are not evidence for the existence of the correlation, as denoted by the phrase, “ Correlation doesn’t imply causation .”
  • It’s useful for discovering new connections and forming hypotheses. It drives design planning and data collection.

Exploratory Analysis Example

Climate change is an increasingly important topic as the global temperature has gradually risen over the years. One example of an exploratory data analysis on climate change involves taking the rise in temperature over the years from 1950 to 2020 and the increase of human activities and industrialization to find relationships from the data. For example, you may increase the number of factories, cars on the road and airplane flights to see how that correlates with the rise in temperature.

Exploratory analysis explores data to find relationships between measures without identifying the cause. It’s most useful when formulating hypotheses.

4. Inferential Analysis

Inferential analysis involves using a small sample of data to infer information about a larger population of data.

The goal of statistical modeling itself is all about using a small amount of information to extrapolate and generalize information to a larger group. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Inferential analysis involves using estimated data that is representative of a population and gives a measure of uncertainty or standard deviation to your estimation.
  • The  accuracy of inference depends heavily on your sampling scheme. If the sample isn’t representative of the population, the generalization will be inaccurate. This is known as the  central limit theorem .

Inferential Analysis Example

The idea of drawing an inference about the population at large with a smaller sample size is intuitive. Many statistics you see on the media and the internet are inferential; a prediction of an event based on a small sample. For example, a psychological study on the benefits of sleep might have a total of 500 people involved. When they followed up with the candidates, the candidates reported to have better overall attention spans and well-being with seven-to-nine hours of sleep, while those with less sleep and more sleep than the given range suffered from reduced attention spans and energy. This study drawn from 500 people was just a tiny portion of the 7 billion people in the world, and is thus an inference of the larger population.

Inferential analysis extrapolates and generalizes the information of the larger group with a smaller sample to generate analysis and predictions.

5. Predictive Analysis

Predictive analysis involves using historical or current data to find patterns and make predictions about the future. Here’s what you need to know:

  • The accuracy of the predictions depends on the input variables.
  • Accuracy also depends on the types of models. A linear model might work well in some cases, and in other cases it might not.
  • Using a variable to predict another one doesn’t denote a causal relationship.

Predictive Analysis Example

The 2020 US election is a popular topic and many  prediction models are built to predict the winning candidate. FiveThirtyEight did this to forecast the 2016 and 2020 elections. Prediction analysis for an election would require input variables such as historical polling data, trends and current polling data in order to return a good prediction. Something as large as an election wouldn’t just be using a linear model, but a complex model with certain tunings to best serve its purpose.

Predictive analysis takes data from the past and present to make predictions about the future.

More on Data: Explaining the Empirical for Normal Distribution

6. Causal Analysis

Causal analysis looks at the cause and effect of relationships between variables and is focused on finding the cause of a correlation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • To find the cause, you have to question whether the observed correlations driving your conclusion are valid. Just looking at the surface data won’t help you discover the hidden mechanisms underlying the correlations.
  • Causal analysis is applied in randomized studies focused on identifying causation.
  • Causal analysis is the gold standard in data analysis and scientific studies where the cause of phenomenon is to be extracted and singled out, like separating wheat from chaff.
  • Good data is hard to find and requires expensive research and studies. These studies are analyzed in aggregate (multiple groups), and the observed relationships are just average effects (mean) of the whole population. This means the results might not apply to everyone.

Causal Analysis Example  

Say you want to test out whether a new drug improves human strength and focus. To do that, you perform randomized control trials for the drug to test its effect. You compare the sample of candidates for your new drug against the candidates receiving a mock control drug through a few tests focused on strength and overall focus and attention. This will allow you to observe how the drug affects the outcome.

Causal analysis is about finding out the causal relationship between variables, and examining how a change in one variable affects another.

7. Mechanistic Analysis

Mechanistic analysis is used to understand exact changes in variables that lead to other changes in other variables. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It’s applied in physical or engineering sciences, situations that require high precision and little room for error, only noise in data is measurement error.
  • It’s designed to understand a biological or behavioral process, the pathophysiology of a disease or the mechanism of action of an intervention. 

Mechanistic Analysis Example

Many graduate-level research and complex topics are suitable examples, but to put it in simple terms, let’s say an experiment is done to simulate safe and effective nuclear fusion to power the world. A mechanistic analysis of the study would entail a precise balance of controlling and manipulating variables with highly accurate measures of both variables and the desired outcomes. It’s this intricate and meticulous modus operandi toward these big topics that allows for scientific breakthroughs and advancement of society.

Mechanistic analysis is in some ways a predictive analysis, but modified to tackle studies that require high precision and meticulous methodologies for physical or engineering science .

8. Prescriptive Analysis 

Prescriptive analysis compiles insights from other previous data analyses and determines actions that teams or companies can take to prepare for predicted trends. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • Prescriptive analysis may come right after predictive analysis, but it may involve combining many different data analyses. 
  • Companies need advanced technology and plenty of resources to conduct prescriptive analysis. AI systems that process data and adjust automated tasks are an example of the technology required to perform prescriptive analysis.  

Prescriptive Analysis Example

Prescriptive analysis is pervasive in everyday life, driving the curated content users consume on social media. On platforms like TikTok and Instagram, algorithms can apply prescriptive analysis to review past content a user has engaged with and the kinds of behaviors they exhibited with specific posts. Based on these factors, an algorithm seeks out similar content that is likely to elicit the same response and recommends it on a user’s personal feed. 

When to Use the Different Types of Data Analysis 

  • Descriptive analysis summarizes the data at hand and presents your data in a comprehensible way.
  • Diagnostic analysis takes a more detailed look at data to reveal why certain patterns occur, making it a good method for explaining anomalies. 
  • Exploratory data analysis helps you discover correlations and relationships between variables in your data.
  • Inferential analysis is for generalizing the larger population with a smaller sample size of data.
  • Predictive analysis helps you make predictions about the future with data.
  • Causal analysis emphasizes finding the cause of a correlation between variables.
  • Mechanistic analysis is for measuring the exact changes in variables that lead to other changes in other variables.
  • Prescriptive analysis combines insights from different data analyses to develop a course of action teams and companies can take to capitalize on predicted outcomes. 

A few important tips to remember about data analysis include:

  • Correlation doesn’t imply causation.
  • EDA helps discover new connections and form hypotheses.
  • Accuracy of inference depends on the sampling scheme.
  • A good prediction depends on the right input variables.
  • A simple linear model with enough data usually does the trick.
  • Using a variable to predict another doesn’t denote causal relationships.
  • Good data is hard to find, and to produce it requires expensive research.
  • Results from studies are done in aggregate and are average effects and might not apply to everyone.​

Built In’s expert contributor network publishes thoughtful, solutions-oriented stories written by innovative tech professionals. It is the tech industry’s definitive destination for sharing compelling, first-person accounts of problem-solving on the road to innovation.

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8 Types of Analysis in Research

June 12, 2023 | By Hitesh Bhasin | Filed Under: Marketing

Data analysis detailed process of analyzing cleaning transforming and presenting useful information with the goal of forming conclusions and supporting decision making . Data can be analyzed by multiple approaches for multiple domains. It is very essential for every business is today to analyze the data that is obtained from various means.

Data analysis is useful in drawing certain conclusions about the variables that are present in the research. The approach to analysis, however, depends on the research that is being carried out. Without using data analytics, it is difficult to determine the relationship between variables which would lead to a meaningful conclusion. Thus, data analysis is an important tool to arrive at a particular conclusion.

Data can be analyzed in various ways. Following are a few methods by which data can be analyzed :

Table of Contents

1) Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA)

It is one of the types of analysis in research which is used to analyze data and established relationships which were previously unknown. They are specifically used to discover and for new connections and for defining future studies or answering the questions pertaining to future studies.

The answers provided by exploratory analysis are not definitive in nature but they provide little insight into what is coming. The approach to analyzing data sets with visual methods is the commonly used technique for EDA. Exploratory data analysis was promoted by John Tukey and was defined in 1961.

Graphical techniques of representation are used primarily in exploratory data analysis and most used graphical techniques are a histogram, Pareto chart, stem and leaf plot, scatter plot, box plot, etc. The drawback of exploratory analysis is that it cannot be used for generalizing or predicting precisely about the upcoming events. The data provides correlation which does not imply causation. Exploratory data analysis can be applied to study census along with convenience sample data set.

Software and machine-aided have become very common in EDA analysis. Few of them are Data Applied, Ggobi, JMP, KNIME, Python etc.

2) Descriptive data analysis

This method requires the least amount of effort amongst all other methods of data analysis. It describes the main features of the collection of data, quantitatively. This is usually the initial kind of data analysis that is performed on the available data set. Descriptive data analysis is usually applied to the volumes of data such as census data. Descriptive data analysis has different steps for description and interpretation. There are two methods of statistical descriptive analysis that is univariate and bivariate. Both are types of analysis in research.

A) Univariate descriptive data analysis

The analysis which involves the distribution of a single variable is called univariate analysis.

B)  Bivariate and multivariate analysis

When the data analysis involves a description of the distribution of more than one variable it is termed as bivariate and multivariate analysis. Descriptive statistics, in such cases, may be used to describe the relationship between the pair of variables.

3) Causal data analysis

Analysis - 2

Causal data analysis is also known as explanatory Data Analysis. Causal determines the cause and effect relationship between the variables. The analysis is primarily carried out to see what would happen to another variable if one variable would change.

Application of causal studies usually requires randomized studies but there are also approaches to concluding causation even and non-randomized studies. Causal models set to be the gold standard amongst all other types of data analysis. It is considered to be very complex and the researcher cannot be certain that other variables influencing the causal relationship are constant especially when the research is dealing with the attitudes of customers in business.

Often, the researcher has to consider psychological impacts that even the respondent may not be aware of at any point and these unconsidered parameters impact the data that is analyzed and may affect the conclusions.

4) Predictive data analysis

As the name suggests Predictive data analysis involves employing methods which analyze the current trends along with the historical facts to arrive at a conclusion that makes predictions about the future trends of future events.

The prediction and the success of the model depend on choosing and measuring the right variables. Predicting future trends is very difficult and requires technical expertise in the subject. Machine learning is a modern tool used interactive analysis for better results. Prediction analysis is used to predict the rising and changing trends in various industries.

Analytical customer relationship management , clinical decision support systems , collection analytics, fraud detection, portfolio management are a few of the applications of Predictive Data Analysis. Forecasting about the future financial trends is also a very important application of predictive data analysis.

Few of the software used to Predictive analysis are Apache Mahout, GNU Octave, OpenNN, MATLAB etc.

5) Inferential data analysis

Inferential data analysis is amongst the types of analysis in research that helps to test theories of different subjects based on the sample taken from the group of subjects. A small part of a population is studied and the conclusions are extrapolated for the bigger chunk of the population.

The goals of statistical models are to provide an inference or a conclusion based on a study in the small amount of representative population. Since the process involves drawing conclusions or inferences, selecting a proper statistical model for the process is very important.

The success of inferential data analysis will depend on proper statistical models used for analysis. The results of inferential analysis depend on the population and the sampling technique. It is very crucial that a variety of representative subjects are taken to study to have better results.

The data analysis is applied to the cross-sectional study of time retrospective data set and observational data analysis. Inferential data analysis can determine and predict excellent results if and only if the proper sampling technique is followed along with good tools for data analysis.

6) Decision trees

This is classified as a modern classification algorithm in data mining and is a very popular type of analysis in research which requires machine learning. It is usually represented as a tree-shaped diagram of a figure that provides information about regression models or classification.

The decision tree may be subdivided into the smaller database is that has similar values. The branches determine how the tree is built where does one go with the current choices and where would those choices lead to next.

The primary advantage of a decision tree is the domain knowledge is not an essential requirement for analysis. Also, the classification of the decision tree is a very simple and fast process which consumes less time compared to other data analysis techniques.

7) Mechanistic data analysis

This method is exactly opposite to the descriptive data analysis, which required the least amount of effort, mechanistic data analysis requires a maximum amount of effort. The primary idea behind mechanistic data analysis is to understand the nature of exact changes in variables that affect other variables.

Mechanistic data analysis is exceptionally difficult to predict except when the situations are simpler. This analysis used by physical and engineering science in case of the deterministic set of equations. The applications of this type of analysis are randomized trial data set.

8) Evolutionary programming

It combines different types of analysis in research using evolutionary algorithms to form meaningful data and is a very common concept in data mining. Genetic algorithms and evolutionary algorithms are the most popular programs of revolutionary programming. These are an accident in case of independent techniques since they have the ability to search and explore large spaces for discovering good solutions.

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About Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Marketing91 and has over a decade of experience in the marketing field. He is an accomplished author of thousands of insightful articles, including in-depth analyses of brands and companies. Holding an MBA in Marketing, Hitesh manages several offline ventures, where he applies all the concepts of Marketing that he writes about.

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Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples

Research methods are specific procedures for collecting and analyzing data. Developing your research methods is an integral part of your research design . When planning your methods, there are two key decisions you will make.

First, decide how you will collect data . Your methods depend on what type of data you need to answer your research question :

  • Qualitative vs. quantitative : Will your data take the form of words or numbers?
  • Primary vs. secondary : Will you collect original data yourself, or will you use data that has already been collected by someone else?
  • Descriptive vs. experimental : Will you take measurements of something as it is, or will you perform an experiment?

Second, decide how you will analyze the data .

  • For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables.
  • For qualitative data, you can use methods such as thematic analysis to interpret patterns and meanings in the data.

Table of contents

Methods for collecting data, examples of data collection methods, methods for analyzing data, examples of data analysis methods, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research methods.

Data is the information that you collect for the purposes of answering your research question . The type of data you need depends on the aims of your research.

Qualitative vs. quantitative data

Your choice of qualitative or quantitative data collection depends on the type of knowledge you want to develop.

For questions about ideas, experiences and meanings, or to study something that can’t be described numerically, collect qualitative data .

If you want to develop a more mechanistic understanding of a topic, or your research involves hypothesis testing , collect quantitative data .

You can also take a mixed methods approach , where you use both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Primary vs. secondary research

Primary research is any original data that you collect yourself for the purposes of answering your research question (e.g. through surveys , observations and experiments ). Secondary research is data that has already been collected by other researchers (e.g. in a government census or previous scientific studies).

If you are exploring a novel research question, you’ll probably need to collect primary data . But if you want to synthesize existing knowledge, analyze historical trends, or identify patterns on a large scale, secondary data might be a better choice.

Descriptive vs. experimental data

In descriptive research , you collect data about your study subject without intervening. The validity of your research will depend on your sampling method .

In experimental research , you systematically intervene in a process and measure the outcome. The validity of your research will depend on your experimental design .

To conduct an experiment, you need to be able to vary your independent variable , precisely measure your dependent variable, and control for confounding variables . If it’s practically and ethically possible, this method is the best choice for answering questions about cause and effect.

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Your data analysis methods will depend on the type of data you collect and how you prepare it for analysis.

Data can often be analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. For example, survey responses could be analyzed qualitatively by studying the meanings of responses or quantitatively by studying the frequencies of responses.

Qualitative analysis methods

Qualitative analysis is used to understand words, ideas, and experiences. You can use it to interpret data that was collected:

  • From open-ended surveys and interviews , literature reviews , case studies , ethnographies , and other sources that use text rather than numbers.
  • Using non-probability sampling methods .

Qualitative analysis tends to be quite flexible and relies on the researcher’s judgement, so you have to reflect carefully on your choices and assumptions and be careful to avoid research bias .

Quantitative analysis methods

Quantitative analysis uses numbers and statistics to understand frequencies, averages and correlations (in descriptive studies) or cause-and-effect relationships (in experiments).

You can use quantitative analysis to interpret data that was collected either:

  • During an experiment .
  • Using probability sampling methods .

Because the data is collected and analyzed in a statistically valid way, the results of quantitative analysis can be easily standardized and shared among researchers.

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If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square test of independence
  • Statistical power
  • Descriptive statistics
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Pearson correlation
  • Null hypothesis
  • Double-blind study
  • Case-control study
  • Research ethics
  • Data collection
  • Hypothesis testing
  • Structured interviews

Research bias

  • Hawthorne effect
  • Unconscious bias
  • Recall bias
  • Halo effect
  • Self-serving bias
  • Information bias

Quantitative research deals with numbers and statistics, while qualitative research deals with words and meanings.

Quantitative methods allow you to systematically measure variables and test hypotheses . Qualitative methods allow you to explore concepts and experiences in more detail.

In mixed methods research , you use both qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis methods to answer your research question .

A sample is a subset of individuals from a larger population . Sampling means selecting the group that you will actually collect data from in your research. For example, if you are researching the opinions of students in your university, you could survey a sample of 100 students.

In statistics, sampling allows you to test a hypothesis about the characteristics of a population.

The research methods you use depend on the type of data you need to answer your research question .

  • If you want to measure something or test a hypothesis , use quantitative methods . If you want to explore ideas, thoughts and meanings, use qualitative methods .
  • If you want to analyze a large amount of readily-available data, use secondary data. If you want data specific to your purposes with control over how it is generated, collect primary data.
  • If you want to establish cause-and-effect relationships between variables , use experimental methods. If you want to understand the characteristics of a research subject, use descriptive methods.

Methodology refers to the overarching strategy and rationale of your research project . It involves studying the methods used in your field and the theories or principles behind them, in order to develop an approach that matches your objectives.

Methods are the specific tools and procedures you use to collect and analyze data (for example, experiments, surveys , and statistical tests ).

In shorter scientific papers, where the aim is to report the findings of a specific study, you might simply describe what you did in a methods section .

In a longer or more complex research project, such as a thesis or dissertation , you will probably include a methodology section , where you explain your approach to answering the research questions and cite relevant sources to support your choice of methods.

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research analysis types

Home Market Research

Data Analysis in Research: Types & Methods


Content Index

Why analyze data in research?

Types of data in research, finding patterns in the qualitative data, methods used for data analysis in qualitative research, preparing data for analysis, methods used for data analysis in quantitative research, considerations in research data analysis, what is data analysis in research.

Definition of research in data analysis: According to LeCompte and Schensul, research data analysis is a process used by researchers to reduce data to a story and interpret it to derive insights. The data analysis process helps reduce a large chunk of data into smaller fragments, which makes sense. 

Three essential things occur during the data analysis process — the first is data organization . Summarization and categorization together contribute to becoming the second known method used for data reduction. It helps find patterns and themes in the data for easy identification and linking. The third and last way is data analysis – researchers do it in both top-down and bottom-up fashion.

LEARN ABOUT: Research Process Steps

On the other hand, Marshall and Rossman describe data analysis as a messy, ambiguous, and time-consuming but creative and fascinating process through which a mass of collected data is brought to order, structure and meaning.

We can say that “the data analysis and data interpretation is a process representing the application of deductive and inductive logic to the research and data analysis.”

Researchers rely heavily on data as they have a story to tell or research problems to solve. It starts with a question, and data is nothing but an answer to that question. But, what if there is no question to ask? Well! It is possible to explore data even without a problem – we call it ‘Data Mining’, which often reveals some interesting patterns within the data that are worth exploring.

Irrelevant to the type of data researchers explore, their mission and audiences’ vision guide them to find the patterns to shape the story they want to tell. One of the essential things expected from researchers while analyzing data is to stay open and remain unbiased toward unexpected patterns, expressions, and results. Remember, sometimes, data analysis tells the most unforeseen yet exciting stories that were not expected when initiating data analysis. Therefore, rely on the data you have at hand and enjoy the journey of exploratory research. 

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Every kind of data has a rare quality of describing things after assigning a specific value to it. For analysis, you need to organize these values, processed and presented in a given context, to make it useful. Data can be in different forms; here are the primary data types.

  • Qualitative data: When the data presented has words and descriptions, then we call it qualitative data . Although you can observe this data, it is subjective and harder to analyze data in research, especially for comparison. Example: Quality data represents everything describing taste, experience, texture, or an opinion that is considered quality data. This type of data is usually collected through focus groups, personal qualitative interviews , qualitative observation or using open-ended questions in surveys.
  • Quantitative data: Any data expressed in numbers of numerical figures are called quantitative data . This type of data can be distinguished into categories, grouped, measured, calculated, or ranked. Example: questions such as age, rank, cost, length, weight, scores, etc. everything comes under this type of data. You can present such data in graphical format, charts, or apply statistical analysis methods to this data. The (Outcomes Measurement Systems) OMS questionnaires in surveys are a significant source of collecting numeric data.
  • Categorical data: It is data presented in groups. However, an item included in the categorical data cannot belong to more than one group. Example: A person responding to a survey by telling his living style, marital status, smoking habit, or drinking habit comes under the categorical data. A chi-square test is a standard method used to analyze this data.

Learn More : Examples of Qualitative Data in Education

Data analysis in qualitative research

Data analysis and qualitative data research work a little differently from the numerical data as the quality data is made up of words, descriptions, images, objects, and sometimes symbols. Getting insight from such complicated information is a complicated process. Hence it is typically used for exploratory research and data analysis .

Although there are several ways to find patterns in the textual information, a word-based method is the most relied and widely used global technique for research and data analysis. Notably, the data analysis process in qualitative research is manual. Here the researchers usually read the available data and find repetitive or commonly used words. 

For example, while studying data collected from African countries to understand the most pressing issues people face, researchers might find  “food”  and  “hunger” are the most commonly used words and will highlight them for further analysis.

LEARN ABOUT: Level of Analysis

The keyword context is another widely used word-based technique. In this method, the researcher tries to understand the concept by analyzing the context in which the participants use a particular keyword.  

For example , researchers conducting research and data analysis for studying the concept of ‘diabetes’ amongst respondents might analyze the context of when and how the respondent has used or referred to the word ‘diabetes.’

The scrutiny-based technique is also one of the highly recommended  text analysis  methods used to identify a quality data pattern. Compare and contrast is the widely used method under this technique to differentiate how a specific text is similar or different from each other. 

For example: To find out the “importance of resident doctor in a company,” the collected data is divided into people who think it is necessary to hire a resident doctor and those who think it is unnecessary. Compare and contrast is the best method that can be used to analyze the polls having single-answer questions types .

Metaphors can be used to reduce the data pile and find patterns in it so that it becomes easier to connect data with theory.

Variable Partitioning is another technique used to split variables so that researchers can find more coherent descriptions and explanations from the enormous data.

LEARN ABOUT: Qualitative Research Questions and Questionnaires

There are several techniques to analyze the data in qualitative research, but here are some commonly used methods,

  • Content Analysis:  It is widely accepted and the most frequently employed technique for data analysis in research methodology. It can be used to analyze the documented information from text, images, and sometimes from the physical items. It depends on the research questions to predict when and where to use this method.
  • Narrative Analysis: This method is used to analyze content gathered from various sources such as personal interviews, field observation, and  surveys . The majority of times, stories, or opinions shared by people are focused on finding answers to the research questions.
  • Discourse Analysis:  Similar to narrative analysis, discourse analysis is used to analyze the interactions with people. Nevertheless, this particular method considers the social context under which or within which the communication between the researcher and respondent takes place. In addition to that, discourse analysis also focuses on the lifestyle and day-to-day environment while deriving any conclusion.
  • Grounded Theory:  When you want to explain why a particular phenomenon happened, then using grounded theory for analyzing quality data is the best resort. Grounded theory is applied to study data about the host of similar cases occurring in different settings. When researchers are using this method, they might alter explanations or produce new ones until they arrive at some conclusion.

LEARN ABOUT: 12 Best Tools for Researchers

Data analysis in quantitative research

The first stage in research and data analysis is to make it for the analysis so that the nominal data can be converted into something meaningful. Data preparation consists of the below phases.

Phase I: Data Validation

Data validation is done to understand if the collected data sample is per the pre-set standards, or it is a biased data sample again divided into four different stages

  • Fraud: To ensure an actual human being records each response to the survey or the questionnaire
  • Screening: To make sure each participant or respondent is selected or chosen in compliance with the research criteria
  • Procedure: To ensure ethical standards were maintained while collecting the data sample
  • Completeness: To ensure that the respondent has answered all the questions in an online survey. Else, the interviewer had asked all the questions devised in the questionnaire.

Phase II: Data Editing

More often, an extensive research data sample comes loaded with errors. Respondents sometimes fill in some fields incorrectly or sometimes skip them accidentally. Data editing is a process wherein the researchers have to confirm that the provided data is free of such errors. They need to conduct necessary checks and outlier checks to edit the raw edit and make it ready for analysis.

Phase III: Data Coding

Out of all three, this is the most critical phase of data preparation associated with grouping and assigning values to the survey responses . If a survey is completed with a 1000 sample size, the researcher will create an age bracket to distinguish the respondents based on their age. Thus, it becomes easier to analyze small data buckets rather than deal with the massive data pile.

LEARN ABOUT: Steps in Qualitative Research

After the data is prepared for analysis, researchers are open to using different research and data analysis methods to derive meaningful insights. For sure, statistical analysis plans are the most favored to analyze numerical data. In statistical analysis, distinguishing between categorical data and numerical data is essential, as categorical data involves distinct categories or labels, while numerical data consists of measurable quantities. The method is again classified into two groups. First, ‘Descriptive Statistics’ used to describe data. Second, ‘Inferential statistics’ that helps in comparing the data .

Descriptive statistics

This method is used to describe the basic features of versatile types of data in research. It presents the data in such a meaningful way that pattern in the data starts making sense. Nevertheless, the descriptive analysis does not go beyond making conclusions. The conclusions are again based on the hypothesis researchers have formulated so far. Here are a few major types of descriptive analysis methods.

Measures of Frequency

  • Count, Percent, Frequency
  • It is used to denote home often a particular event occurs.
  • Researchers use it when they want to showcase how often a response is given.

Measures of Central Tendency

  • Mean, Median, Mode
  • The method is widely used to demonstrate distribution by various points.
  • Researchers use this method when they want to showcase the most commonly or averagely indicated response.

Measures of Dispersion or Variation

  • Range, Variance, Standard deviation
  • Here the field equals high/low points.
  • Variance standard deviation = difference between the observed score and mean
  • It is used to identify the spread of scores by stating intervals.
  • Researchers use this method to showcase data spread out. It helps them identify the depth until which the data is spread out that it directly affects the mean.

Measures of Position

  • Percentile ranks, Quartile ranks
  • It relies on standardized scores helping researchers to identify the relationship between different scores.
  • It is often used when researchers want to compare scores with the average count.

For quantitative research use of descriptive analysis often give absolute numbers, but the in-depth analysis is never sufficient to demonstrate the rationale behind those numbers. Nevertheless, it is necessary to think of the best method for research and data analysis suiting your survey questionnaire and what story researchers want to tell. For example, the mean is the best way to demonstrate the students’ average scores in schools. It is better to rely on the descriptive statistics when the researchers intend to keep the research or outcome limited to the provided  sample  without generalizing it. For example, when you want to compare average voting done in two different cities, differential statistics are enough.

Descriptive analysis is also called a ‘univariate analysis’ since it is commonly used to analyze a single variable.

Inferential statistics

Inferential statistics are used to make predictions about a larger population after research and data analysis of the representing population’s collected sample. For example, you can ask some odd 100 audiences at a movie theater if they like the movie they are watching. Researchers then use inferential statistics on the collected  sample  to reason that about 80-90% of people like the movie. 

Here are two significant areas of inferential statistics.

  • Estimating parameters: It takes statistics from the sample research data and demonstrates something about the population parameter.
  • Hypothesis test: I t’s about sampling research data to answer the survey research questions. For example, researchers might be interested to understand if the new shade of lipstick recently launched is good or not, or if the multivitamin capsules help children to perform better at games.

These are sophisticated analysis methods used to showcase the relationship between different variables instead of describing a single variable. It is often used when researchers want something beyond absolute numbers to understand the relationship between variables.

Here are some of the commonly used methods for data analysis in research.

  • Correlation: When researchers are not conducting experimental research or quasi-experimental research wherein the researchers are interested to understand the relationship between two or more variables, they opt for correlational research methods.
  • Cross-tabulation: Also called contingency tables,  cross-tabulation  is used to analyze the relationship between multiple variables.  Suppose provided data has age and gender categories presented in rows and columns. A two-dimensional cross-tabulation helps for seamless data analysis and research by showing the number of males and females in each age category.
  • Regression analysis: For understanding the strong relationship between two variables, researchers do not look beyond the primary and commonly used regression analysis method, which is also a type of predictive analysis used. In this method, you have an essential factor called the dependent variable. You also have multiple independent variables in regression analysis. You undertake efforts to find out the impact of independent variables on the dependent variable. The values of both independent and dependent variables are assumed as being ascertained in an error-free random manner.
  • Frequency tables: The statistical procedure is used for testing the degree to which two or more vary or differ in an experiment. A considerable degree of variation means research findings were significant. In many contexts, ANOVA testing and variance analysis are similar.
  • Analysis of variance: The statistical procedure is used for testing the degree to which two or more vary or differ in an experiment. A considerable degree of variation means research findings were significant. In many contexts, ANOVA testing and variance analysis are similar.
  • Researchers must have the necessary research skills to analyze and manipulation the data , Getting trained to demonstrate a high standard of research practice. Ideally, researchers must possess more than a basic understanding of the rationale of selecting one statistical method over the other to obtain better data insights.
  • Usually, research and data analytics projects differ by scientific discipline; therefore, getting statistical advice at the beginning of analysis helps design a survey questionnaire, select data collection  methods, and choose samples.

LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools

  • The primary aim of data research and analysis is to derive ultimate insights that are unbiased. Any mistake in or keeping a biased mind to collect data, selecting an analysis method, or choosing  audience  sample il to draw a biased inference.
  • Irrelevant to the sophistication used in research data and analysis is enough to rectify the poorly defined objective outcome measurements. It does not matter if the design is at fault or intentions are not clear, but lack of clarity might mislead readers, so avoid the practice.
  • The motive behind data analysis in research is to present accurate and reliable data. As far as possible, avoid statistical errors, and find a way to deal with everyday challenges like outliers, missing data, data altering, data mining , or developing graphical representation.

LEARN MORE: Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research The sheer amount of data generated daily is frightening. Especially when data analysis has taken center stage. in 2018. In last year, the total data supply amounted to 2.8 trillion gigabytes. Hence, it is clear that the enterprises willing to survive in the hypercompetitive world must possess an excellent capability to analyze complex research data, derive actionable insights, and adapt to the new market needs.

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  • 3. Analysis, Limitations, and Ethics

3.1 Types of Analysis

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Listed here are a few of the more obvious choices for analysis.

Choices for data analysis are circumscribed by Decision Board 2 selections. For instance, if you chose field research, you will most likely be drawn to narrative analysis. Multiple types of analysis may be required. For instance, if you want to run an involved survey questionnaire with a representative sample, you may want to select test of statistical inference, correlation or regression and descriptive statistics as your types of analyses. Or if you are intending to do a case study on an e-business, you may need descriptive, thematic and narrative analyses.

Test of statistical inference

Descriptive and inferential are the two general types of statistical analyses in quantitative research. Descriptive includes simple calculations of central tendency (mean, median and mode), spread (quartile ranges, standard deviation and variance) and frequency distributions displayed in graphs. Inferential includes more complex calculations of statistical significance usually associated with probability-based analysis. A t-test is a typical example of inferential analysis.


Correlation measures the association between variables, usually as a numeric value signifying the degree to which changes in the values of a dependent variable (Y) increase or decrease in parallel with changes in the values of an independent variable (X). Linear regression analysis can be used to make short-range predictions, but the associations are only as strong as the arguments demonstrating their supposed relationship. Any set of values could be shown to strongly associate with another set of values, regardless of the senseless nature of the association. A typical example of a senseless (spurious) correlation is the strong association between ice cream sales and drowning deaths; another variable, hot temperatures, is actually impacting the association between ice cream sales and drowning deaths.


Descriptive analysis is the chameleon of research analysis: it can take on many forms, from descriptive statistical graphic displays and number summaries to involved interpretive accounts. It is concerned with the “what is” as opposed to the “why” and involves drawing conclusions, discerning patterns and assessing the meaning and implications of the data/information.

After carefully observing a social science-related phenomenon or “text” or “body of knowledge,” a plausible, well-reasoned, descriptive account of the various meanings or interpretations of the data is produced. The analysis often takes into account the context in which the data were produced, who produced it and under what circumstances. Frequent and regular references to information sources typify descriptive analysis.

Thematic analysis is one of the most popular types of qualitative analysis. It is also easy to use. It simply involves the skilled ordering of the findings into descriptive categories or themes around which most or all of the main elements of the data results can be presented. For a qualitative study on dumpster diving, for instance, the following themes could be used as descriptive categories in which to present the rich and detailed data: SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE, ANTI-CAPITALIST and COMMUNAL ORIENTATION.

Narrative analysis is a form of inquiry based on a descriptive account of a group of people such as midwives or an extraordinary individual such as Nelson Mandela or the experience of surviving cancer, drawn from a collection of narrative accounts (diaries, letters, photos, poems…).

It values the particular and the subjective, lived experience in a workplace or in an unusual circumstance such as a natural disaster. The researcher analyzes the form, content and contexts within which the story unfolds, structured either chronologically or as critical incidents. The “narrative” emerges as a rich, detailed account that is unique to the subject(s) under analysis and specific to the researcher’s investigative talents.

The 4 Types of Data Analysis [Ultimate Guide]

The most successful businesses and organizations are those that constantly learn and adapt.

No matter what industry you’re operating in, it’s essential to understand what has happened in the past, what’s going on now, and to anticipate what might happen in the future. So how do companies do that?

The answer lies in data analytics . Most companies are collecting data all the time—but, in its raw form, this data doesn’t really mean anything. It’s what you do with the data that counts. Data analytics is the process of analyzing raw data in order to draw out patterns, trends, and insights that can tell you something meaningful about a particular area of the business. These insights are then used to make smart, data-driven decisions.

The kinds of insights you get from your data depends on the type of analysis you perform. In data analytics and data science, there are four main types of data analysis: Descriptive , diagnostic , predictive , and prescriptive .

In this post, we’ll explain each of the four and consider why they’re useful. If you’re interested in a particular type of analysis, jump straight to the relevant section using the clickable menu below.

  • Types of data analysis: Descriptive
  • Types of data analysis: Diagnostic
  • Types of data analysis: Predictive
  • Types of data analysis: Prescriptive
  • Key takeaways and further reading

So, what are the four main types of data analysis? Let’s find out.

1. Types of data analysis: Descriptive (What happened?)

Descriptive analytics looks at what has happened in the past.

As the name suggests, the purpose of descriptive analytics is to simply describe what has happened; it doesn’t try to explain why this might have happened or to establish cause-and-effect relationships. The aim is solely to provide an easily digestible snapshot.

Google Analytics is a good example of descriptive analytics in action; it provides a simple overview of what’s been going on with your website, showing you how many people visited in a given time period, for example, or where your visitors came from. Similarly, tools like HubSpot will show you how many people opened a particular email or engaged with a certain campaign.

There are two main techniques used in descriptive analytics: Data aggregation and data mining.

Data aggregation

Data aggregation is the process of gathering data and presenting it in a summarized format.

Let’s imagine an ecommerce company collects all kinds of data relating to their customers and people who visit their website. The aggregate data, or summarized data, would provide an overview of this wider dataset—such as the average customer age, for example, or the average number of purchases made.

Data mining

Data mining is the analysis part . This is when the analyst explores the data in order to uncover any patterns or trends. The outcome of descriptive analysis is a visual representation of the data—as a bar graph, for example, or a pie chart.

So: Descriptive analytics condenses large volumes of data into a clear, simple overview of what has happened. This is often the starting point for more in-depth analysis, as we’ll now explore.

2. Types of data analysis: Diagnostic (Why did it happen?)

Diagnostic analytics seeks to delve deeper in order to understand why something happened. The main purpose of diagnostic analytics is to identify and respond to anomalies within your data . For example: If your descriptive analysis shows that there was a 20% drop in sales for the month of March, you’ll want to find out why. The next logical step is to perform a diagnostic analysis.

In order to get to the root cause, the analyst will start by identifying any additional data sources that might offer further insight into why the drop in sales occurred. They might drill down to find that, despite a healthy volume of website visitors and a good number of “add to cart” actions, very few customers proceeded to actually check out and make a purchase.

Upon further inspection, it comes to light that the majority of customers abandoned ship at the point of filling out their delivery address. Now we’re getting somewhere! It’s starting to look like there was a problem with the address form; perhaps it wasn’t loading properly on mobile, or was simply too long and frustrating. With a little bit of digging, you’re closer to finding an explanation for your data anomaly.

Diagnostic analytics isn’t just about fixing problems, though; you can also use it to see what’s driving positive results. Perhaps the data tells you that website traffic was through the roof in October—a whopping 60% increase compared to the previous month! When you drill down, it seems that this spike in traffic corresponds to a celebrity mentioning one of your skincare products in their Instagram story.

This opens your eyes to the power of influencer marketing , giving you something to think about for your future marketing strategy.

When running diagnostic analytics, there are a number of different techniques that you might employ, such as probability theory, regression analysis, filtering, and time-series analysis. You can learn more about each of these techniques in our introduction to data analytics .

So: While descriptive analytics looks at what happened, diagnostic analytics explores why it happened.

3. Types of data analysis: Predictive (What is likely to happen in the future?)

Predictive analytics seeks to predict what is likely to happen in the future. Based on past patterns and trends, data analysts can devise predictive models which estimate the likelihood of a future event or outcome. This is especially useful as it enables businesses to plan ahead.

Predictive models use the relationship between a set of variables to make predictions; for example, you might use the correlation between seasonality and sales figures to predict when sales are likely to drop. If your predictive model tells you that sales are likely to go down in summer, you might use this information to come up with a summer-related promotional campaign, or to decrease expenditure elsewhere to make up for the seasonal dip.

Perhaps you own a restaurant and want to predict how many takeaway orders you’re likely to get on a typical Saturday night. Based on what your predictive model tells you, you might decide to get an extra delivery driver on hand.

In addition to forecasting, predictive analytics is also used for classification. A commonly used classification algorithm is logistic regression, which is used to predict a binary outcome based on a set of independent variables. For example: A credit card company might use a predictive model, and specifically logistic regression, to predict whether or not a given customer will default on their payments—in other words, to classify them in one of two categories: “will default” or “will not default”.

Based on these predictions of what category the customer will fall into, the company can quickly assess who might be a good candidate for a credit card. You can learn more about logistic regression and other types of regression analysis .

Machine learning (ML)

Machine learning is a branch of predictive analytics. Just as humans use predictive analytics to devise models and forecast future outcomes, machine learning models are designed to recognize patterns in the data and automatically evolve in order to make accurate predictions. If you’re interested in learning more, there are some useful guides to the similarities and differences between (human-led) predictive analytics and machine learning .

Learn more in our full guide to machine learning .

As you can see, predictive analytics is used to forecast all sorts of future outcomes, and while it can never be one hundred percent accurate, it does eliminate much of the guesswork. This is crucial when it comes to making business decisions and determining the most appropriate course of action.

So: Predictive analytics builds on what happened in the past and why to predict what is likely to happen in the future.

4. Types of data analysis: Prescriptive (What’s the best course of action?)

Prescriptive analytics looks at what has happened, why it happened, and what might happen in order to determine what should be done next.

In other words, prescriptive analytics shows you how you can best take advantage of the future outcomes that have been predicted. What steps can you take to avoid a future problem? What can you do to capitalize on an emerging trend?

Prescriptive analytics is, without doubt, the most complex type of analysis, involving algorithms, machine learning, statistical methods, and computational modeling procedures. Essentially, a prescriptive model considers all the possible decision patterns or pathways a company might take, and their likely outcomes.

This enables you to see how each combination of conditions and decisions might impact the future, and allows you to measure the impact a certain decision might have. Based on all the possible scenarios and potential outcomes, the company can decide what is the best “route” or action to take.

An oft-cited example of prescriptive analytics in action is maps and traffic apps. When figuring out the best way to get you from A to B, Google Maps will consider all the possible modes of transport (e.g. bus, walking, or driving), the current traffic conditions and possible roadworks in order to calculate the best route. In much the same way, prescriptive models are used to calculate all the possible “routes” a company might take to reach their goals in order to determine the best possible option.

Knowing what actions to take for the best chances of success is a major advantage for any type of organization, so it’s no wonder that prescriptive analytics has a huge role to play in business.

So: Prescriptive analytics looks at what has happened, why it happened, and what might happen in order to determine the best course of action for the future.

5. Key takeaways and further reading

In some ways, data analytics is a bit like a treasure hunt; based on clues and insights from the past, you can work out what your next move should be.

With the right type of analysis, all kinds of businesses and organizations can use their data to make smarter decisions, invest more wisely, improve internal processes, and ultimately increase their chances of success. To summarize, there are four main types of data analysis to be aware of:

  • Descriptive analytics: What happened?
  • Diagnostic analytics: Why did it happen?
  • Predictive analytics: What is likely to happen in the future?
  • Prescriptive analytics: What is the best course of action to take?

Now you’re familiar with the different types of data analysis, you can start to explore specific analysis techniques, such as time series analysis, cohort analysis, and regression—to name just a few! We explore some of the most useful data analysis techniques in this guide .

If you’re not already familiar, it’s also worth learning about the different levels of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio) for data .

Ready for a hands-on introduction to the field? Give this free, five-day data analytics short course a go! And, if you’d like to learn more, check out some of these excellent free courses for beginners . Then, to see what it takes to start a career in the field, check out the following:

  • How to become a data analyst: Your five-step plan
  • What are the key skills every data analyst needs?
  • What’s it actually like to work as a data analyst?

Your Modern Business Guide To Data Analysis Methods And Techniques

Data analysis methods and techniques blog post by datapine

Table of Contents

1) What Is Data Analysis?

2) Why Is Data Analysis Important?

3) What Is The Data Analysis Process?

4) Types Of Data Analysis Methods

5) Top Data Analysis Techniques To Apply

6) Quality Criteria For Data Analysis

7) Data Analysis Limitations & Barriers

8) Data Analysis Skills

9) Data Analysis In The Big Data Environment

In our data-rich age, understanding how to analyze and extract true meaning from our business’s digital insights is one of the primary drivers of success.

Despite the colossal volume of data we create every day, a mere 0.5% is actually analyzed and used for data discovery , improvement, and intelligence. While that may not seem like much, considering the amount of digital information we have at our fingertips, half a percent still accounts for a vast amount of data.

With so much data and so little time, knowing how to collect, curate, organize, and make sense of all of this potentially business-boosting information can be a minefield – but online data analysis is the solution.

In science, data analysis uses a more complex approach with advanced techniques to explore and experiment with data. On the other hand, in a business context, data is used to make data-driven decisions that will enable the company to improve its overall performance. In this post, we will cover the analysis of data from an organizational point of view while still going through the scientific and statistical foundations that are fundamental to understanding the basics of data analysis. 

To put all of that into perspective, we will answer a host of important analytical questions, explore analytical methods and techniques, while demonstrating how to perform analysis in the real world with a 17-step blueprint for success.

What Is Data Analysis?

Data analysis is the process of collecting, modeling, and analyzing data using various statistical and logical methods and techniques. Businesses rely on analytics processes and tools to extract insights that support strategic and operational decision-making.

All these various methods are largely based on two core areas: quantitative and qualitative research.

To explain the key differences between qualitative and quantitative research, here’s a video for your viewing pleasure:

Gaining a better understanding of different techniques and methods in quantitative research as well as qualitative insights will give your analyzing efforts a more clearly defined direction, so it’s worth taking the time to allow this particular knowledge to sink in. Additionally, you will be able to create a comprehensive analytical report that will skyrocket your analysis.

Apart from qualitative and quantitative categories, there are also other types of data that you should be aware of before dividing into complex data analysis processes. These categories include: 

  • Big data: Refers to massive data sets that need to be analyzed using advanced software to reveal patterns and trends. It is considered to be one of the best analytical assets as it provides larger volumes of data at a faster rate. 
  • Metadata: Putting it simply, metadata is data that provides insights about other data. It summarizes key information about specific data that makes it easier to find and reuse for later purposes. 
  • Real time data: As its name suggests, real time data is presented as soon as it is acquired. From an organizational perspective, this is the most valuable data as it can help you make important decisions based on the latest developments. Our guide on real time analytics will tell you more about the topic. 
  • Machine data: This is more complex data that is generated solely by a machine such as phones, computers, or even websites and embedded systems, without previous human interaction.

Why Is Data Analysis Important?

Before we go into detail about the categories of analysis along with its methods and techniques, you must understand the potential that analyzing data can bring to your organization.

  • Informed decision-making : From a management perspective, you can benefit from analyzing your data as it helps you make decisions based on facts and not simple intuition. For instance, you can understand where to invest your capital, detect growth opportunities, predict your income, or tackle uncommon situations before they become problems. Through this, you can extract relevant insights from all areas in your organization, and with the help of dashboard software , present the data in a professional and interactive way to different stakeholders.
  • Reduce costs : Another great benefit is to reduce costs. With the help of advanced technologies such as predictive analytics, businesses can spot improvement opportunities, trends, and patterns in their data and plan their strategies accordingly. In time, this will help you save money and resources on implementing the wrong strategies. And not just that, by predicting different scenarios such as sales and demand you can also anticipate production and supply. 
  • Target customers better : Customers are arguably the most crucial element in any business. By using analytics to get a 360° vision of all aspects related to your customers, you can understand which channels they use to communicate with you, their demographics, interests, habits, purchasing behaviors, and more. In the long run, it will drive success to your marketing strategies, allow you to identify new potential customers, and avoid wasting resources on targeting the wrong people or sending the wrong message. You can also track customer satisfaction by analyzing your client’s reviews or your customer service department’s performance.

What Is The Data Analysis Process?

Data analysis process graphic

When we talk about analyzing data there is an order to follow in order to extract the needed conclusions. The analysis process consists of 5 key stages. We will cover each of them more in detail later in the post, but to start providing the needed context to understand what is coming next, here is a rundown of the 5 essential steps of data analysis. 

  • Identify: Before you get your hands dirty with data, you first need to identify why you need it in the first place. The identification is the stage in which you establish the questions you will need to answer. For example, what is the customer's perception of our brand? Or what type of packaging is more engaging to our potential customers? Once the questions are outlined you are ready for the next step. 
  • Collect: As its name suggests, this is the stage where you start collecting the needed data. Here, you define which sources of data you will use and how you will use them. The collection of data can come in different forms such as internal or external sources, surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups, among others.  An important note here is that the way you collect the data will be different in a quantitative and qualitative scenario. 
  • Clean: Once you have the necessary data it is time to clean it and leave it ready for analysis. Not all the data you collect will be useful, when collecting big amounts of data in different formats it is very likely that you will find yourself with duplicate or badly formatted data. To avoid this, before you start working with your data you need to make sure to erase any white spaces, duplicate records, or formatting errors. This way you avoid hurting your analysis with bad-quality data. 
  • Analyze : With the help of various techniques such as statistical analysis, regressions, neural networks, text analysis, and more, you can start analyzing and manipulating your data to extract relevant conclusions. At this stage, you find trends, correlations, variations, and patterns that can help you answer the questions you first thought of in the identify stage. Various technologies in the market assist researchers and average users with the management of their data. Some of them include business intelligence and visualization software, predictive analytics, and data mining, among others. 
  • Interpret: Last but not least you have one of the most important steps: it is time to interpret your results. This stage is where the researcher comes up with courses of action based on the findings. For example, here you would understand if your clients prefer packaging that is red or green, plastic or paper, etc. Additionally, at this stage, you can also find some limitations and work on them. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of the key data analysis steps, let’s look at the top 17 essential methods.

17 Essential Types Of Data Analysis Methods

Before diving into the 17 essential types of methods, it is important that we go over really fast through the main analysis categories. Starting with the category of descriptive up to prescriptive analysis, the complexity and effort of data evaluation increases, but also the added value for the company.

a) Descriptive analysis - What happened.

The descriptive analysis method is the starting point for any analytic reflection, and it aims to answer the question of what happened? It does this by ordering, manipulating, and interpreting raw data from various sources to turn it into valuable insights for your organization.

Performing descriptive analysis is essential, as it enables us to present our insights in a meaningful way. Although it is relevant to mention that this analysis on its own will not allow you to predict future outcomes or tell you the answer to questions like why something happened, it will leave your data organized and ready to conduct further investigations.

b) Exploratory analysis - How to explore data relationships.

As its name suggests, the main aim of the exploratory analysis is to explore. Prior to it, there is still no notion of the relationship between the data and the variables. Once the data is investigated, exploratory analysis helps you to find connections and generate hypotheses and solutions for specific problems. A typical area of ​​application for it is data mining.

c) Diagnostic analysis - Why it happened.

Diagnostic data analytics empowers analysts and executives by helping them gain a firm contextual understanding of why something happened. If you know why something happened as well as how it happened, you will be able to pinpoint the exact ways of tackling the issue or challenge.

Designed to provide direct and actionable answers to specific questions, this is one of the world’s most important methods in research, among its other key organizational functions such as retail analytics , e.g.

c) Predictive analysis - What will happen.

The predictive method allows you to look into the future to answer the question: what will happen? In order to do this, it uses the results of the previously mentioned descriptive, exploratory, and diagnostic analysis, in addition to machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Through this, you can uncover future trends, potential problems or inefficiencies, connections, and casualties in your data.

With predictive analysis, you can unfold and develop initiatives that will not only enhance your various operational processes but also help you gain an all-important edge over the competition. If you understand why a trend, pattern, or event happened through data, you will be able to develop an informed projection of how things may unfold in particular areas of the business.

e) Prescriptive analysis - How will it happen.

Another of the most effective types of analysis methods in research. Prescriptive data techniques cross over from predictive analysis in the way that it revolves around using patterns or trends to develop responsive, practical business strategies.

By drilling down into prescriptive analysis, you will play an active role in the data consumption process by taking well-arranged sets of visual data and using it as a powerful fix to emerging issues in a number of key areas, including marketing, sales, customer experience, HR, fulfillment, finance, logistics analytics , and others.

Top 17 data analysis methods

As mentioned at the beginning of the post, data analysis methods can be divided into two big categories: quantitative and qualitative. Each of these categories holds a powerful analytical value that changes depending on the scenario and type of data you are working with. Below, we will discuss 17 methods that are divided into qualitative and quantitative approaches. 

Without further ado, here are the 17 essential types of data analysis methods with some use cases in the business world: 

A. Quantitative Methods 

To put it simply, quantitative analysis refers to all methods that use numerical data or data that can be turned into numbers (e.g. category variables like gender, age, etc.) to extract valuable insights. It is used to extract valuable conclusions about relationships, differences, and test hypotheses. Below we discuss some of the key quantitative methods. 

1. Cluster analysis

The action of grouping a set of data elements in a way that said elements are more similar (in a particular sense) to each other than to those in other groups – hence the term ‘cluster.’ Since there is no target variable when clustering, the method is often used to find hidden patterns in the data. The approach is also used to provide additional context to a trend or dataset.

Let's look at it from an organizational perspective. In a perfect world, marketers would be able to analyze each customer separately and give them the best-personalized service, but let's face it, with a large customer base, it is timely impossible to do that. That's where clustering comes in. By grouping customers into clusters based on demographics, purchasing behaviors, monetary value, or any other factor that might be relevant for your company, you will be able to immediately optimize your efforts and give your customers the best experience based on their needs.

2. Cohort analysis

This type of data analysis approach uses historical data to examine and compare a determined segment of users' behavior, which can then be grouped with others with similar characteristics. By using this methodology, it's possible to gain a wealth of insight into consumer needs or a firm understanding of a broader target group.

Cohort analysis can be really useful for performing analysis in marketing as it will allow you to understand the impact of your campaigns on specific groups of customers. To exemplify, imagine you send an email campaign encouraging customers to sign up for your site. For this, you create two versions of the campaign with different designs, CTAs, and ad content. Later on, you can use cohort analysis to track the performance of the campaign for a longer period of time and understand which type of content is driving your customers to sign up, repurchase, or engage in other ways.  

A useful tool to start performing cohort analysis method is Google Analytics. You can learn more about the benefits and limitations of using cohorts in GA in this useful guide . In the bottom image, you see an example of how you visualize a cohort in this tool. The segments (devices traffic) are divided into date cohorts (usage of devices) and then analyzed week by week to extract insights into performance.

Cohort analysis chart example from google analytics

3. Regression analysis

Regression uses historical data to understand how a dependent variable's value is affected when one (linear regression) or more independent variables (multiple regression) change or stay the same. By understanding each variable's relationship and how it developed in the past, you can anticipate possible outcomes and make better decisions in the future.

Let's bring it down with an example. Imagine you did a regression analysis of your sales in 2019 and discovered that variables like product quality, store design, customer service, marketing campaigns, and sales channels affected the overall result. Now you want to use regression to analyze which of these variables changed or if any new ones appeared during 2020. For example, you couldn’t sell as much in your physical store due to COVID lockdowns. Therefore, your sales could’ve either dropped in general or increased in your online channels. Through this, you can understand which independent variables affected the overall performance of your dependent variable, annual sales.

If you want to go deeper into this type of analysis, check out this article and learn more about how you can benefit from regression.

4. Neural networks

The neural network forms the basis for the intelligent algorithms of machine learning. It is a form of analytics that attempts, with minimal intervention, to understand how the human brain would generate insights and predict values. Neural networks learn from each and every data transaction, meaning that they evolve and advance over time.

A typical area of application for neural networks is predictive analytics. There are BI reporting tools that have this feature implemented within them, such as the Predictive Analytics Tool from datapine. This tool enables users to quickly and easily generate all kinds of predictions. All you have to do is select the data to be processed based on your KPIs, and the software automatically calculates forecasts based on historical and current data. Thanks to its user-friendly interface, anyone in your organization can manage it; there’s no need to be an advanced scientist. 

Here is an example of how you can use the predictive analysis tool from datapine:

Example on how to use predictive analytics tool from datapine

**click to enlarge**

5. Factor analysis

The factor analysis also called “dimension reduction” is a type of data analysis used to describe variability among observed, correlated variables in terms of a potentially lower number of unobserved variables called factors. The aim here is to uncover independent latent variables, an ideal method for streamlining specific segments.

A good way to understand this data analysis method is a customer evaluation of a product. The initial assessment is based on different variables like color, shape, wearability, current trends, materials, comfort, the place where they bought the product, and frequency of usage. Like this, the list can be endless, depending on what you want to track. In this case, factor analysis comes into the picture by summarizing all of these variables into homogenous groups, for example, by grouping the variables color, materials, quality, and trends into a brother latent variable of design.

If you want to start analyzing data using factor analysis we recommend you take a look at this practical guide from UCLA.

6. Data mining

A method of data analysis that is the umbrella term for engineering metrics and insights for additional value, direction, and context. By using exploratory statistical evaluation, data mining aims to identify dependencies, relations, patterns, and trends to generate advanced knowledge.  When considering how to analyze data, adopting a data mining mindset is essential to success - as such, it’s an area that is worth exploring in greater detail.

An excellent use case of data mining is datapine intelligent data alerts . With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, they provide automated signals based on particular commands or occurrences within a dataset. For example, if you’re monitoring supply chain KPIs , you could set an intelligent alarm to trigger when invalid or low-quality data appears. By doing so, you will be able to drill down deep into the issue and fix it swiftly and effectively.

In the following picture, you can see how the intelligent alarms from datapine work. By setting up ranges on daily orders, sessions, and revenues, the alarms will notify you if the goal was not completed or if it exceeded expectations.

Example on how to use intelligent alerts from datapine

7. Time series analysis

As its name suggests, time series analysis is used to analyze a set of data points collected over a specified period of time. Although analysts use this method to monitor the data points in a specific interval of time rather than just monitoring them intermittently, the time series analysis is not uniquely used for the purpose of collecting data over time. Instead, it allows researchers to understand if variables changed during the duration of the study, how the different variables are dependent, and how did it reach the end result. 

In a business context, this method is used to understand the causes of different trends and patterns to extract valuable insights. Another way of using this method is with the help of time series forecasting. Powered by predictive technologies, businesses can analyze various data sets over a period of time and forecast different future events. 

A great use case to put time series analysis into perspective is seasonality effects on sales. By using time series forecasting to analyze sales data of a specific product over time, you can understand if sales rise over a specific period of time (e.g. swimwear during summertime, or candy during Halloween). These insights allow you to predict demand and prepare production accordingly.  

8. Decision Trees 

The decision tree analysis aims to act as a support tool to make smart and strategic decisions. By visually displaying potential outcomes, consequences, and costs in a tree-like model, researchers and company users can easily evaluate all factors involved and choose the best course of action. Decision trees are helpful to analyze quantitative data and they allow for an improved decision-making process by helping you spot improvement opportunities, reduce costs, and enhance operational efficiency and production.

But how does a decision tree actually works? This method works like a flowchart that starts with the main decision that you need to make and branches out based on the different outcomes and consequences of each decision. Each outcome will outline its own consequences, costs, and gains and, at the end of the analysis, you can compare each of them and make the smartest decision. 

Businesses can use them to understand which project is more cost-effective and will bring more earnings in the long run. For example, imagine you need to decide if you want to update your software app or build a new app entirely.  Here you would compare the total costs, the time needed to be invested, potential revenue, and any other factor that might affect your decision.  In the end, you would be able to see which of these two options is more realistic and attainable for your company or research.

9. Conjoint analysis 

Last but not least, we have the conjoint analysis. This approach is usually used in surveys to understand how individuals value different attributes of a product or service and it is one of the most effective methods to extract consumer preferences. When it comes to purchasing, some clients might be more price-focused, others more features-focused, and others might have a sustainable focus. Whatever your customer's preferences are, you can find them with conjoint analysis. Through this, companies can define pricing strategies, packaging options, subscription packages, and more. 

A great example of conjoint analysis is in marketing and sales. For instance, a cupcake brand might use conjoint analysis and find that its clients prefer gluten-free options and cupcakes with healthier toppings over super sugary ones. Thus, the cupcake brand can turn these insights into advertisements and promotions to increase sales of this particular type of product. And not just that, conjoint analysis can also help businesses segment their customers based on their interests. This allows them to send different messaging that will bring value to each of the segments. 

10. Correspondence Analysis

Also known as reciprocal averaging, correspondence analysis is a method used to analyze the relationship between categorical variables presented within a contingency table. A contingency table is a table that displays two (simple correspondence analysis) or more (multiple correspondence analysis) categorical variables across rows and columns that show the distribution of the data, which is usually answers to a survey or questionnaire on a specific topic. 

This method starts by calculating an “expected value” which is done by multiplying row and column averages and dividing it by the overall original value of the specific table cell. The “expected value” is then subtracted from the original value resulting in a “residual number” which is what allows you to extract conclusions about relationships and distribution. The results of this analysis are later displayed using a map that represents the relationship between the different values. The closest two values are in the map, the bigger the relationship. Let’s put it into perspective with an example. 

Imagine you are carrying out a market research analysis about outdoor clothing brands and how they are perceived by the public. For this analysis, you ask a group of people to match each brand with a certain attribute which can be durability, innovation, quality materials, etc. When calculating the residual numbers, you can see that brand A has a positive residual for innovation but a negative one for durability. This means that brand A is not positioned as a durable brand in the market, something that competitors could take advantage of. 

11. Multidimensional Scaling (MDS)

MDS is a method used to observe the similarities or disparities between objects which can be colors, brands, people, geographical coordinates, and more. The objects are plotted using an “MDS map” that positions similar objects together and disparate ones far apart. The (dis) similarities between objects are represented using one or more dimensions that can be observed using a numerical scale. For example, if you want to know how people feel about the COVID-19 vaccine, you can use 1 for “don’t believe in the vaccine at all”  and 10 for “firmly believe in the vaccine” and a scale of 2 to 9 for in between responses.  When analyzing an MDS map the only thing that matters is the distance between the objects, the orientation of the dimensions is arbitrary and has no meaning at all. 

Multidimensional scaling is a valuable technique for market research, especially when it comes to evaluating product or brand positioning. For instance, if a cupcake brand wants to know how they are positioned compared to competitors, it can define 2-3 dimensions such as taste, ingredients, shopping experience, or more, and do a multidimensional scaling analysis to find improvement opportunities as well as areas in which competitors are currently leading. 

Another business example is in procurement when deciding on different suppliers. Decision makers can generate an MDS map to see how the different prices, delivery times, technical services, and more of the different suppliers differ and pick the one that suits their needs the best. 

A final example proposed by a research paper on "An Improved Study of Multilevel Semantic Network Visualization for Analyzing Sentiment Word of Movie Review Data". Researchers picked a two-dimensional MDS map to display the distances and relationships between different sentiments in movie reviews. They used 36 sentiment words and distributed them based on their emotional distance as we can see in the image below where the words "outraged" and "sweet" are on opposite sides of the map, marking the distance between the two emotions very clearly.

Example of multidimensional scaling analysis

Aside from being a valuable technique to analyze dissimilarities, MDS also serves as a dimension-reduction technique for large dimensional data. 

B. Qualitative Methods

Qualitative data analysis methods are defined as the observation of non-numerical data that is gathered and produced using methods of observation such as interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, and more. As opposed to quantitative methods, qualitative data is more subjective and highly valuable in analyzing customer retention and product development.

12. Text analysis

Text analysis, also known in the industry as text mining, works by taking large sets of textual data and arranging them in a way that makes it easier to manage. By working through this cleansing process in stringent detail, you will be able to extract the data that is truly relevant to your organization and use it to develop actionable insights that will propel you forward.

Modern software accelerate the application of text analytics. Thanks to the combination of machine learning and intelligent algorithms, you can perform advanced analytical processes such as sentiment analysis. This technique allows you to understand the intentions and emotions of a text, for example, if it's positive, negative, or neutral, and then give it a score depending on certain factors and categories that are relevant to your brand. Sentiment analysis is often used to monitor brand and product reputation and to understand how successful your customer experience is. To learn more about the topic check out this insightful article .

By analyzing data from various word-based sources, including product reviews, articles, social media communications, and survey responses, you will gain invaluable insights into your audience, as well as their needs, preferences, and pain points. This will allow you to create campaigns, services, and communications that meet your prospects’ needs on a personal level, growing your audience while boosting customer retention. There are various other “sub-methods” that are an extension of text analysis. Each of them serves a more specific purpose and we will look at them in detail next. 

13. Content Analysis

This is a straightforward and very popular method that examines the presence and frequency of certain words, concepts, and subjects in different content formats such as text, image, audio, or video. For example, the number of times the name of a celebrity is mentioned on social media or online tabloids. It does this by coding text data that is later categorized and tabulated in a way that can provide valuable insights, making it the perfect mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis.

There are two types of content analysis. The first one is the conceptual analysis which focuses on explicit data, for instance, the number of times a concept or word is mentioned in a piece of content. The second one is relational analysis, which focuses on the relationship between different concepts or words and how they are connected within a specific context. 

Content analysis is often used by marketers to measure brand reputation and customer behavior. For example, by analyzing customer reviews. It can also be used to analyze customer interviews and find directions for new product development. It is also important to note, that in order to extract the maximum potential out of this analysis method, it is necessary to have a clearly defined research question. 

14. Thematic Analysis

Very similar to content analysis, thematic analysis also helps in identifying and interpreting patterns in qualitative data with the main difference being that the first one can also be applied to quantitative analysis. The thematic method analyzes large pieces of text data such as focus group transcripts or interviews and groups them into themes or categories that come up frequently within the text. It is a great method when trying to figure out peoples view’s and opinions about a certain topic. For example, if you are a brand that cares about sustainability, you can do a survey of your customers to analyze their views and opinions about sustainability and how they apply it to their lives. You can also analyze customer service calls transcripts to find common issues and improve your service. 

Thematic analysis is a very subjective technique that relies on the researcher’s judgment. Therefore,  to avoid biases, it has 6 steps that include familiarization, coding, generating themes, reviewing themes, defining and naming themes, and writing up. It is also important to note that, because it is a flexible approach, the data can be interpreted in multiple ways and it can be hard to select what data is more important to emphasize. 

15. Narrative Analysis 

A bit more complex in nature than the two previous ones, narrative analysis is used to explore the meaning behind the stories that people tell and most importantly, how they tell them. By looking into the words that people use to describe a situation you can extract valuable conclusions about their perspective on a specific topic. Common sources for narrative data include autobiographies, family stories, opinion pieces, and testimonials, among others. 

From a business perspective, narrative analysis can be useful to analyze customer behaviors and feelings towards a specific product, service, feature, or others. It provides unique and deep insights that can be extremely valuable. However, it has some drawbacks.  

The biggest weakness of this method is that the sample sizes are usually very small due to the complexity and time-consuming nature of the collection of narrative data. Plus, the way a subject tells a story will be significantly influenced by his or her specific experiences, making it very hard to replicate in a subsequent study. 

16. Discourse Analysis

Discourse analysis is used to understand the meaning behind any type of written, verbal, or symbolic discourse based on its political, social, or cultural context. It mixes the analysis of languages and situations together. This means that the way the content is constructed and the meaning behind it is significantly influenced by the culture and society it takes place in. For example, if you are analyzing political speeches you need to consider different context elements such as the politician's background, the current political context of the country, the audience to which the speech is directed, and so on. 

From a business point of view, discourse analysis is a great market research tool. It allows marketers to understand how the norms and ideas of the specific market work and how their customers relate to those ideas. It can be very useful to build a brand mission or develop a unique tone of voice. 

17. Grounded Theory Analysis

Traditionally, researchers decide on a method and hypothesis and start to collect the data to prove that hypothesis. The grounded theory is the only method that doesn’t require an initial research question or hypothesis as its value lies in the generation of new theories. With the grounded theory method, you can go into the analysis process with an open mind and explore the data to generate new theories through tests and revisions. In fact, it is not necessary to collect the data and then start to analyze it. Researchers usually start to find valuable insights as they are gathering the data. 

All of these elements make grounded theory a very valuable method as theories are fully backed by data instead of initial assumptions. It is a great technique to analyze poorly researched topics or find the causes behind specific company outcomes. For example, product managers and marketers might use the grounded theory to find the causes of high levels of customer churn and look into customer surveys and reviews to develop new theories about the causes. 

How To Analyze Data? Top 17 Data Analysis Techniques To Apply

17 top data analysis techniques by datapine

Now that we’ve answered the questions “what is data analysis’”, why is it important, and covered the different data analysis types, it’s time to dig deeper into how to perform your analysis by working through these 17 essential techniques.

1. Collaborate your needs

Before you begin analyzing or drilling down into any techniques, it’s crucial to sit down collaboratively with all key stakeholders within your organization, decide on your primary campaign or strategic goals, and gain a fundamental understanding of the types of insights that will best benefit your progress or provide you with the level of vision you need to evolve your organization.

2. Establish your questions

Once you’ve outlined your core objectives, you should consider which questions will need answering to help you achieve your mission. This is one of the most important techniques as it will shape the very foundations of your success.

To help you ask the right things and ensure your data works for you, you have to ask the right data analysis questions .

3. Data democratization

After giving your data analytics methodology some real direction, and knowing which questions need answering to extract optimum value from the information available to your organization, you should continue with democratization.

Data democratization is an action that aims to connect data from various sources efficiently and quickly so that anyone in your organization can access it at any given moment. You can extract data in text, images, videos, numbers, or any other format. And then perform cross-database analysis to achieve more advanced insights to share with the rest of the company interactively.  

Once you have decided on your most valuable sources, you need to take all of this into a structured format to start collecting your insights. For this purpose, datapine offers an easy all-in-one data connectors feature to integrate all your internal and external sources and manage them at your will. Additionally, datapine’s end-to-end solution automatically updates your data, allowing you to save time and focus on performing the right analysis to grow your company.

data connectors from datapine

4. Think of governance 

When collecting data in a business or research context you always need to think about security and privacy. With data breaches becoming a topic of concern for businesses, the need to protect your client's or subject’s sensitive information becomes critical. 

To ensure that all this is taken care of, you need to think of a data governance strategy. According to Gartner , this concept refers to “ the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to ensure the appropriate behavior in the valuation, creation, consumption, and control of data and analytics .” In simpler words, data governance is a collection of processes, roles, and policies, that ensure the efficient use of data while still achieving the main company goals. It ensures that clear roles are in place for who can access the information and how they can access it. In time, this not only ensures that sensitive information is protected but also allows for an efficient analysis as a whole. 

5. Clean your data

After harvesting from so many sources you will be left with a vast amount of information that can be overwhelming to deal with. At the same time, you can be faced with incorrect data that can be misleading to your analysis. The smartest thing you can do to avoid dealing with this in the future is to clean the data. This is fundamental before visualizing it, as it will ensure that the insights you extract from it are correct.

There are many things that you need to look for in the cleaning process. The most important one is to eliminate any duplicate observations; this usually appears when using multiple internal and external sources of information. You can also add any missing codes, fix empty fields, and eliminate incorrectly formatted data.

Another usual form of cleaning is done with text data. As we mentioned earlier, most companies today analyze customer reviews, social media comments, questionnaires, and several other text inputs. In order for algorithms to detect patterns, text data needs to be revised to avoid invalid characters or any syntax or spelling errors. 

Most importantly, the aim of cleaning is to prevent you from arriving at false conclusions that can damage your company in the long run. By using clean data, you will also help BI solutions to interact better with your information and create better reports for your organization.

6. Set your KPIs

Once you’ve set your sources, cleaned your data, and established clear-cut questions you want your insights to answer, you need to set a host of key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track, measure, and shape your progress in a number of key areas.

KPIs are critical to both qualitative and quantitative analysis research. This is one of the primary methods of data analysis you certainly shouldn’t overlook.

To help you set the best possible KPIs for your initiatives and activities, here is an example of a relevant logistics KPI : transportation-related costs. If you want to see more go explore our collection of key performance indicator examples .

Transportation costs logistics KPIs

7. Omit useless data

Having bestowed your data analysis tools and techniques with true purpose and defined your mission, you should explore the raw data you’ve collected from all sources and use your KPIs as a reference for chopping out any information you deem to be useless.

Trimming the informational fat is one of the most crucial methods of analysis as it will allow you to focus your analytical efforts and squeeze every drop of value from the remaining ‘lean’ information.

Any stats, facts, figures, or metrics that don’t align with your business goals or fit with your KPI management strategies should be eliminated from the equation.

8. Build a data management roadmap

While, at this point, this particular step is optional (you will have already gained a wealth of insight and formed a fairly sound strategy by now), creating a data governance roadmap will help your data analysis methods and techniques become successful on a more sustainable basis. These roadmaps, if developed properly, are also built so they can be tweaked and scaled over time.

Invest ample time in developing a roadmap that will help you store, manage, and handle your data internally, and you will make your analysis techniques all the more fluid and functional – one of the most powerful types of data analysis methods available today.

9. Integrate technology

There are many ways to analyze data, but one of the most vital aspects of analytical success in a business context is integrating the right decision support software and technology.

Robust analysis platforms will not only allow you to pull critical data from your most valuable sources while working with dynamic KPIs that will offer you actionable insights; it will also present them in a digestible, visual, interactive format from one central, live dashboard . A data methodology you can count on.

By integrating the right technology within your data analysis methodology, you’ll avoid fragmenting your insights, saving you time and effort while allowing you to enjoy the maximum value from your business’s most valuable insights.

For a look at the power of software for the purpose of analysis and to enhance your methods of analyzing, glance over our selection of dashboard examples .

10. Answer your questions

By considering each of the above efforts, working with the right technology, and fostering a cohesive internal culture where everyone buys into the different ways to analyze data as well as the power of digital intelligence, you will swiftly start to answer your most burning business questions. Arguably, the best way to make your data concepts accessible across the organization is through data visualization.

11. Visualize your data

Online data visualization is a powerful tool as it lets you tell a story with your metrics, allowing users across the organization to extract meaningful insights that aid business evolution – and it covers all the different ways to analyze data.

The purpose of analyzing is to make your entire organization more informed and intelligent, and with the right platform or dashboard, this is simpler than you think, as demonstrated by our marketing dashboard .

An executive dashboard example showcasing high-level marketing KPIs such as cost per lead, MQL, SQL, and cost per customer.

This visual, dynamic, and interactive online dashboard is a data analysis example designed to give Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) an overview of relevant metrics to help them understand if they achieved their monthly goals.

In detail, this example generated with a modern dashboard creator displays interactive charts for monthly revenues, costs, net income, and net income per customer; all of them are compared with the previous month so that you can understand how the data fluctuated. In addition, it shows a detailed summary of the number of users, customers, SQLs, and MQLs per month to visualize the whole picture and extract relevant insights or trends for your marketing reports .

The CMO dashboard is perfect for c-level management as it can help them monitor the strategic outcome of their marketing efforts and make data-driven decisions that can benefit the company exponentially.

12. Be careful with the interpretation

We already dedicated an entire post to data interpretation as it is a fundamental part of the process of data analysis. It gives meaning to the analytical information and aims to drive a concise conclusion from the analysis results. Since most of the time companies are dealing with data from many different sources, the interpretation stage needs to be done carefully and properly in order to avoid misinterpretations. 

To help you through the process, here we list three common practices that you need to avoid at all costs when looking at your data:

  • Correlation vs. causation: The human brain is formatted to find patterns. This behavior leads to one of the most common mistakes when performing interpretation: confusing correlation with causation. Although these two aspects can exist simultaneously, it is not correct to assume that because two things happened together, one provoked the other. A piece of advice to avoid falling into this mistake is never to trust just intuition, trust the data. If there is no objective evidence of causation, then always stick to correlation. 
  • Confirmation bias: This phenomenon describes the tendency to select and interpret only the data necessary to prove one hypothesis, often ignoring the elements that might disprove it. Even if it's not done on purpose, confirmation bias can represent a real problem, as excluding relevant information can lead to false conclusions and, therefore, bad business decisions. To avoid it, always try to disprove your hypothesis instead of proving it, share your analysis with other team members, and avoid drawing any conclusions before the entire analytical project is finalized.
  • Statistical significance: To put it in short words, statistical significance helps analysts understand if a result is actually accurate or if it happened because of a sampling error or pure chance. The level of statistical significance needed might depend on the sample size and the industry being analyzed. In any case, ignoring the significance of a result when it might influence decision-making can be a huge mistake.

13. Build a narrative

Now, we’re going to look at how you can bring all of these elements together in a way that will benefit your business - starting with a little something called data storytelling.

The human brain responds incredibly well to strong stories or narratives. Once you’ve cleansed, shaped, and visualized your most invaluable data using various BI dashboard tools , you should strive to tell a story - one with a clear-cut beginning, middle, and end.

By doing so, you will make your analytical efforts more accessible, digestible, and universal, empowering more people within your organization to use your discoveries to their actionable advantage.

14. Consider autonomous technology

Autonomous technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), play a significant role in the advancement of understanding how to analyze data more effectively.

Gartner predicts that by the end of this year, 80% of emerging technologies will be developed with AI foundations. This is a testament to the ever-growing power and value of autonomous technologies.

At the moment, these technologies are revolutionizing the analysis industry. Some examples that we mentioned earlier are neural networks, intelligent alarms, and sentiment analysis.

15. Share the load

If you work with the right tools and dashboards, you will be able to present your metrics in a digestible, value-driven format, allowing almost everyone in the organization to connect with and use relevant data to their advantage.

Modern dashboards consolidate data from various sources, providing access to a wealth of insights in one centralized location, no matter if you need to monitor recruitment metrics or generate reports that need to be sent across numerous departments. Moreover, these cutting-edge tools offer access to dashboards from a multitude of devices, meaning that everyone within the business can connect with practical insights remotely - and share the load.

Once everyone is able to work with a data-driven mindset, you will catalyze the success of your business in ways you never thought possible. And when it comes to knowing how to analyze data, this kind of collaborative approach is essential.

16. Data analysis tools

In order to perform high-quality analysis of data, it is fundamental to use tools and software that will ensure the best results. Here we leave you a small summary of four fundamental categories of data analysis tools for your organization.

  • Business Intelligence: BI tools allow you to process significant amounts of data from several sources in any format. Through this, you can not only analyze and monitor your data to extract relevant insights but also create interactive reports and dashboards to visualize your KPIs and use them for your company's good. datapine is an amazing online BI software that is focused on delivering powerful online analysis features that are accessible to beginner and advanced users. Like this, it offers a full-service solution that includes cutting-edge analysis of data, KPIs visualization, live dashboards, reporting, and artificial intelligence technologies to predict trends and minimize risk.
  • Statistical analysis: These tools are usually designed for scientists, statisticians, market researchers, and mathematicians, as they allow them to perform complex statistical analyses with methods like regression analysis, predictive analysis, and statistical modeling. A good tool to perform this type of analysis is R-Studio as it offers a powerful data modeling and hypothesis testing feature that can cover both academic and general data analysis. This tool is one of the favorite ones in the industry, due to its capability for data cleaning, data reduction, and performing advanced analysis with several statistical methods. Another relevant tool to mention is SPSS from IBM. The software offers advanced statistical analysis for users of all skill levels. Thanks to a vast library of machine learning algorithms, text analysis, and a hypothesis testing approach it can help your company find relevant insights to drive better decisions. SPSS also works as a cloud service that enables you to run it anywhere.
  • SQL Consoles: SQL is a programming language often used to handle structured data in relational databases. Tools like these are popular among data scientists as they are extremely effective in unlocking these databases' value. Undoubtedly, one of the most used SQL software in the market is MySQL Workbench . This tool offers several features such as a visual tool for database modeling and monitoring, complete SQL optimization, administration tools, and visual performance dashboards to keep track of KPIs.
  • Data Visualization: These tools are used to represent your data through charts, graphs, and maps that allow you to find patterns and trends in the data. datapine's already mentioned BI platform also offers a wealth of powerful online data visualization tools with several benefits. Some of them include: delivering compelling data-driven presentations to share with your entire company, the ability to see your data online with any device wherever you are, an interactive dashboard design feature that enables you to showcase your results in an interactive and understandable way, and to perform online self-service reports that can be used simultaneously with several other people to enhance team productivity.

17. Refine your process constantly 

Last is a step that might seem obvious to some people, but it can be easily ignored if you think you are done. Once you have extracted the needed results, you should always take a retrospective look at your project and think about what you can improve. As you saw throughout this long list of techniques, data analysis is a complex process that requires constant refinement. For this reason, you should always go one step further and keep improving. 

Quality Criteria For Data Analysis

So far we’ve covered a list of methods and techniques that should help you perform efficient data analysis. But how do you measure the quality and validity of your results? This is done with the help of some science quality criteria. Here we will go into a more theoretical area that is critical to understanding the fundamentals of statistical analysis in science. However, you should also be aware of these steps in a business context, as they will allow you to assess the quality of your results in the correct way. Let’s dig in. 

  • Internal validity: The results of a survey are internally valid if they measure what they are supposed to measure and thus provide credible results. In other words , internal validity measures the trustworthiness of the results and how they can be affected by factors such as the research design, operational definitions, how the variables are measured, and more. For instance, imagine you are doing an interview to ask people if they brush their teeth two times a day. While most of them will answer yes, you can still notice that their answers correspond to what is socially acceptable, which is to brush your teeth at least twice a day. In this case, you can’t be 100% sure if respondents actually brush their teeth twice a day or if they just say that they do, therefore, the internal validity of this interview is very low. 
  • External validity: Essentially, external validity refers to the extent to which the results of your research can be applied to a broader context. It basically aims to prove that the findings of a study can be applied in the real world. If the research can be applied to other settings, individuals, and times, then the external validity is high. 
  • Reliability : If your research is reliable, it means that it can be reproduced. If your measurement were repeated under the same conditions, it would produce similar results. This means that your measuring instrument consistently produces reliable results. For example, imagine a doctor building a symptoms questionnaire to detect a specific disease in a patient. Then, various other doctors use this questionnaire but end up diagnosing the same patient with a different condition. This means the questionnaire is not reliable in detecting the initial disease. Another important note here is that in order for your research to be reliable, it also needs to be objective. If the results of a study are the same, independent of who assesses them or interprets them, the study can be considered reliable. Let’s see the objectivity criteria in more detail now. 
  • Objectivity: In data science, objectivity means that the researcher needs to stay fully objective when it comes to its analysis. The results of a study need to be affected by objective criteria and not by the beliefs, personality, or values of the researcher. Objectivity needs to be ensured when you are gathering the data, for example, when interviewing individuals, the questions need to be asked in a way that doesn't influence the results. Paired with this, objectivity also needs to be thought of when interpreting the data. If different researchers reach the same conclusions, then the study is objective. For this last point, you can set predefined criteria to interpret the results to ensure all researchers follow the same steps. 

The discussed quality criteria cover mostly potential influences in a quantitative context. Analysis in qualitative research has by default additional subjective influences that must be controlled in a different way. Therefore, there are other quality criteria for this kind of research such as credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. You can see each of them more in detail on this resource . 

Data Analysis Limitations & Barriers

Analyzing data is not an easy task. As you’ve seen throughout this post, there are many steps and techniques that you need to apply in order to extract useful information from your research. While a well-performed analysis can bring various benefits to your organization it doesn't come without limitations. In this section, we will discuss some of the main barriers you might encounter when conducting an analysis. Let’s see them more in detail. 

  • Lack of clear goals: No matter how good your data or analysis might be if you don’t have clear goals or a hypothesis the process might be worthless. While we mentioned some methods that don’t require a predefined hypothesis, it is always better to enter the analytical process with some clear guidelines of what you are expecting to get out of it, especially in a business context in which data is utilized to support important strategic decisions. 
  • Objectivity: Arguably one of the biggest barriers when it comes to data analysis in research is to stay objective. When trying to prove a hypothesis, researchers might find themselves, intentionally or unintentionally, directing the results toward an outcome that they want. To avoid this, always question your assumptions and avoid confusing facts with opinions. You can also show your findings to a research partner or external person to confirm that your results are objective. 
  • Data representation: A fundamental part of the analytical procedure is the way you represent your data. You can use various graphs and charts to represent your findings, but not all of them will work for all purposes. Choosing the wrong visual can not only damage your analysis but can mislead your audience, therefore, it is important to understand when to use each type of data depending on your analytical goals. Our complete guide on the types of graphs and charts lists 20 different visuals with examples of when to use them. 
  • Flawed correlation : Misleading statistics can significantly damage your research. We’ve already pointed out a few interpretation issues previously in the post, but it is an important barrier that we can't avoid addressing here as well. Flawed correlations occur when two variables appear related to each other but they are not. Confusing correlations with causation can lead to a wrong interpretation of results which can lead to building wrong strategies and loss of resources, therefore, it is very important to identify the different interpretation mistakes and avoid them. 
  • Sample size: A very common barrier to a reliable and efficient analysis process is the sample size. In order for the results to be trustworthy, the sample size should be representative of what you are analyzing. For example, imagine you have a company of 1000 employees and you ask the question “do you like working here?” to 50 employees of which 49 say yes, which means 95%. Now, imagine you ask the same question to the 1000 employees and 950 say yes, which also means 95%. Saying that 95% of employees like working in the company when the sample size was only 50 is not a representative or trustworthy conclusion. The significance of the results is way more accurate when surveying a bigger sample size.   
  • Privacy concerns: In some cases, data collection can be subjected to privacy regulations. Businesses gather all kinds of information from their customers from purchasing behaviors to addresses and phone numbers. If this falls into the wrong hands due to a breach, it can affect the security and confidentiality of your clients. To avoid this issue, you need to collect only the data that is needed for your research and, if you are using sensitive facts, make it anonymous so customers are protected. The misuse of customer data can severely damage a business's reputation, so it is important to keep an eye on privacy. 
  • Lack of communication between teams : When it comes to performing data analysis on a business level, it is very likely that each department and team will have different goals and strategies. However, they are all working for the same common goal of helping the business run smoothly and keep growing. When teams are not connected and communicating with each other, it can directly affect the way general strategies are built. To avoid these issues, tools such as data dashboards enable teams to stay connected through data in a visually appealing way. 
  • Innumeracy : Businesses are working with data more and more every day. While there are many BI tools available to perform effective analysis, data literacy is still a constant barrier. Not all employees know how to apply analysis techniques or extract insights from them. To prevent this from happening, you can implement different training opportunities that will prepare every relevant user to deal with data. 

Key Data Analysis Skills

As you've learned throughout this lengthy guide, analyzing data is a complex task that requires a lot of knowledge and skills. That said, thanks to the rise of self-service tools the process is way more accessible and agile than it once was. Regardless, there are still some key skills that are valuable to have when working with data, we list the most important ones below.

  • Critical and statistical thinking: To successfully analyze data you need to be creative and think out of the box. Yes, that might sound like a weird statement considering that data is often tight to facts. However, a great level of critical thinking is required to uncover connections, come up with a valuable hypothesis, and extract conclusions that go a step further from the surface. This, of course, needs to be complemented by statistical thinking and an understanding of numbers. 
  • Data cleaning: Anyone who has ever worked with data before will tell you that the cleaning and preparation process accounts for 80% of a data analyst's work, therefore, the skill is fundamental. But not just that, not cleaning the data adequately can also significantly damage the analysis which can lead to poor decision-making in a business scenario. While there are multiple tools that automate the cleaning process and eliminate the possibility of human error, it is still a valuable skill to dominate. 
  • Data visualization: Visuals make the information easier to understand and analyze, not only for professional users but especially for non-technical ones. Having the necessary skills to not only choose the right chart type but know when to apply it correctly is key. This also means being able to design visually compelling charts that make the data exploration process more efficient. 
  • SQL: The Structured Query Language or SQL is a programming language used to communicate with databases. It is fundamental knowledge as it enables you to update, manipulate, and organize data from relational databases which are the most common databases used by companies. It is fairly easy to learn and one of the most valuable skills when it comes to data analysis. 
  • Communication skills: This is a skill that is especially valuable in a business environment. Being able to clearly communicate analytical outcomes to colleagues is incredibly important, especially when the information you are trying to convey is complex for non-technical people. This applies to in-person communication as well as written format, for example, when generating a dashboard or report. While this might be considered a “soft” skill compared to the other ones we mentioned, it should not be ignored as you most likely will need to share analytical findings with others no matter the context. 

Data Analysis In The Big Data Environment

Big data is invaluable to today’s businesses, and by using different methods for data analysis, it’s possible to view your data in a way that can help you turn insight into positive action.

To inspire your efforts and put the importance of big data into context, here are some insights that you should know:

  • By 2026 the industry of big data is expected to be worth approximately $273.4 billion.
  • 94% of enterprises say that analyzing data is important for their growth and digital transformation. 
  • Companies that exploit the full potential of their data can increase their operating margins by 60% .
  • We already told you the benefits of Artificial Intelligence through this article. This industry's financial impact is expected to grow up to $40 billion by 2025.

Data analysis concepts may come in many forms, but fundamentally, any solid methodology will help to make your business more streamlined, cohesive, insightful, and successful than ever before.

Key Takeaways From Data Analysis 

As we reach the end of our data analysis journey, we leave a small summary of the main methods and techniques to perform excellent analysis and grow your business.

17 Essential Types of Data Analysis Methods:

  • Cluster analysis
  • Cohort analysis
  • Regression analysis
  • Factor analysis
  • Neural Networks
  • Data Mining
  • Text analysis
  • Time series analysis
  • Decision trees
  • Conjoint analysis 
  • Correspondence Analysis
  • Multidimensional Scaling 
  • Content analysis 
  • Thematic analysis
  • Narrative analysis 
  • Grounded theory analysis
  • Discourse analysis 

Top 17 Data Analysis Techniques:

  • Collaborate your needs
  • Establish your questions
  • Data democratization
  • Think of data governance 
  • Clean your data
  • Set your KPIs
  • Omit useless data
  • Build a data management roadmap
  • Integrate technology
  • Answer your questions
  • Visualize your data
  • Interpretation of data
  • Consider autonomous technology
  • Build a narrative
  • Share the load
  • Data Analysis tools
  • Refine your process constantly 

We’ve pondered the data analysis definition and drilled down into the practical applications of data-centric analytics, and one thing is clear: by taking measures to arrange your data and making your metrics work for you, it’s possible to transform raw information into action - the kind of that will push your business to the next level.

Yes, good data analytics techniques result in enhanced business intelligence (BI). To help you understand this notion in more detail, read our exploration of business intelligence reporting .

And, if you’re ready to perform your own analysis, drill down into your facts and figures while interacting with your data on astonishing visuals, you can try our software for a free, 14-day trial .

Get certified as a Hotjar pro!  Take our new course to get your official Hotjar certification.  Learn more

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5 qualitative data analysis methods

Qualitative data uncovers valuable insights that can be used to improve the user and customer experience. But how exactly do you measure and analyze data that isn't quantifiable? 

There are different qualitative data analysis methods to help you make sense of qualitative feedback and customer insights, depending on your business goals and the type of data you've collected.

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research analysis types

Before you choose a qualitative data analysis method for your team, you need to consider the available techniques and explore their use cases to understand how each process might help your team better understand your users. 

This guide covers five qualitative analysis methods to choose from, and will help you pick the right one(s) based on your goals. 

What is qualitative data analysis? 

Qualitative data analysis ( QDA ) is the process of organizing, analyzing, and interpreting qualitative data—non-numeric, conceptual information and user feedback—to capture themes and patterns, answer research questions, and identify actions to take to improve your product or website.

💡 Qualitative data often refers to user behavior data and customer feedback . 

Use product experience insights software—like Hotjar's Observe and Ask tools —to capture qualitative data with context, and learn the real motivation behind user behavior.

research analysis types

Hotjar’s feedback widget lets your customers share their opinions 

5 qualitative data analysis methods explained

Here are five methods of qualitative data analysis to help you make sense of the data you've collected through customer interviews, surveys, and feedback:

Content analysis

Thematic analysis

Narrative analysis

Grounded theory analysis

Discourse analysis

Let’s look at each method one by one, using real examples of qualitative data analysis .

1. Content analysis

Content analysis is a research method that examines and quantifies the presence of certain words, subjects, and concepts in text, image, video, or audio messages. The method transforms qualitative input into quantitative data to help you make reliable conclusions about what customers think of your brand, and how you can improve their experience and opinion.

You can conduct content analysis manually or by using tools like Lexalytics to reveal patterns in communications, uncover differences in individual or group communication trends, and make connections between concepts.

Content analysis was a major part of our growth during my time at Hypercontext.

[It gave us] a better understanding of the [blog] topics that performed best for signing new users up. We were also able to go deeper within those blog posts to better understand the formats [that worked].

How content analysis can help your team

Content analysis is often used by marketers and customer service specialists, helping them understand customer behavior and measure brand reputation.

For example, you may run a customer survey with open-ended questions to discover users’ concerns—in their own words—about their experience with your product. Instead of having to process hundreds of answers manually, a content analysis tool helps you analyze and group results based on the emotion expressed in texts.

Some other examples of content analysis include:

Analyzing brand mentions on social media to understand your brand's reputation

Reviewing customer feedback to evaluate (and then improve) the customer and user experience (UX)

Researching competitors’ website pages to identify their competitive advantages and value propositions

Interpreting customer interviews and survey results to determine user preferences, and setting the direction for new product or feature developments

Content analysis benefits and challenges

Content analysis has some significant advantages for small teams:

You don’t need to directly interact with participants to collect data

The process is easily replicable once standardized

You can automate the process or perform it manually

It doesn’t require high investments or sophisticated solutions

On the downside, content analysis has certain limitations:

When conducted manually, it can be incredibly time-consuming

The results are usually affected by subjective interpretation

Manual content analysis can be subject to human error

The process isn’t effective for complex textual analysis

2. Thematic analysis

Thematic analysis helps to identify, analyze, and interpret patterns in qualitative data , and can be done with tools like Dovetail and Thematic .

While content analysis and thematic analysis seem similar, they're different in concept: 

Content analysis can be applied to both qualitative and quantitative data , and focuses on identifying frequencies and recurring words and subjects.

Thematic analysis can only be applied to qualitative data, and focuses on identifying patterns and ‘themes’.

How thematic analysis can help your team

Thematic analysis can be used by pretty much anyone: from product marketers, to customer relationship managers, to UX researchers.

For example, product teams can use thematic analysis to better understand user behaviors and needs, and to improve UX . By analyzing customer feedback , you can identify themes (e.g. ‘poor navigation’ or ‘buggy mobile interface’) highlighted by users, and get actionable insight into what users really expect from the product. 

Thematic analysis benefits and challenges

Some benefits of thematic analysis: 

It’s one of the most accessible analysis forms, meaning you don’t have to train your teams on it

Teams can easily draw important information from raw data

It’s an effective way to process large amounts of data into digestible summaries

And some drawbacks of thematic analysis:

In a complex narrative, thematic analysis can't capture the true meaning of a text

Thematic analysis doesn’t consider the context of the data being analyzed

Similar to content analysis, the method is subjective and might drive results that don't necessarily align with reality

3. Narrative analysis

Narrative analysis is a method used to interpret research participants’ stories —things like testimonials, case studies, interviews, and other text or visual data—with tools like Delve and AI-powered ATLAS.ti .

Some formats narrative analysis doesn't work for are heavily-structured interviews and written surveys, which don’t give participants as much opportunity to tell their stories in their own words .

How narrative analysis can help your team

Narrative analysis provides product teams with valuable insight into the complexity of customers’ lives, feelings, and behaviors .

In a marketing research context, narrative analysis involves capturing and reviewing customer stories—on social media, for example—to get more insight into their lives, priorities, and challenges. 

This might look like analyzing daily content shared by your audiences’ favorite influencers on Instagram, or analyzing customer reviews on sites like G2 or Capterra to understand individual customers' experiences.

Narrative analysis benefits and challenges

Businesses turn to narrative analysis for a number of reasons:

The method provides you with a deep understanding of your customers' actions—and the motivations behind them

It allows you to personalize customer experiences

It keeps customer profiles as wholes, instead of fragmenting them into components that can be interpreted differently

However, this data analysis method also has drawbacks:

Narrative analysis cannot be automated

It requires a lot of time and manual effort to make conclusions on an individual participant’s story

It’s not scalable

4. Grounded theory analysis

Grounded theory analysis is a method of conducting qualitative research to develop theories by examining real-world data. The technique involves the creation of hypotheses and theories through the collection and evaluation of qualitative data, and can be performed with tools like MAXQDA and Delve.

Unlike other qualitative data analysis methods, this technique develops theories from data, not the other way round.

How grounded theory analysis can help your team

Grounded theory analysis is used by software engineers, product marketers, managers, and other specialists that deal with data to make informed business decisions . 

For example, product marketing teams may turn to customer surveys to understand the reasons behind high churn rates, then use grounded theory to analyze responses and develop hypotheses about why users churn, and how you can get them to stay. 

Grounded theory can also be helpful in the talent management process. For example, HR representatives may use it to develop theories about low employee engagement, and come up with solutions based on their findings.

Grounded theory analysis benefits and challenges

Here’s why teams turn to grounded theory analysis: 

It explains events that can’t be explained with existing theories

The findings are tightly connected to data

The results are data-informed, and therefore represent the proven state of things

It’s a useful method for researchers that know very little information on the topic

Some drawbacks of grounded theory are:

The process requires a lot of objectivity, creativity, and critical thinking from researchers

Because theories are developed based on data instead of the other way around, it's considered to be overly theoretical, and may not provide concise answers to qualitative research questions

5. Discourse analysis

Discourse analysis is the act of researching the underlying meaning of qualitative data. It involves the observation of texts, audio, and videos to study the relationships between the information and its context .

In contrast to content analysis, the method focuses on the contextual meaning of language: discourse analysis sheds light on what audiences think of a topic, and why they feel the way they do about it.

How discourse analysis can help your team

In a business context, the method is primarily used by marketing teams. Discourse analysis helps marketers understand the norms and ideas in their market , and reveals why they play such a significant role for their customers. 

Once the origins of trends are uncovered, it’s easier to develop a company mission, create a unique tone of voice, and craft effective marketing messages.

Discourse analysis benefits and challenges

Discourse analysis has the following benefits:

It uncovers the motivation behind your customers’ or employees’ words, written or spoken

It helps teams discover the meaning of customer data, competitors’ strategies, and employee feedback

But it also has drawbacks: 

Similar to most qualitative data analysis methods, discourse analysis is subjective

The process is time-consuming and labor-intensive

It’s very broad in its approach

Which qualitative data analysis method should you choose?

While the five qualitative data analysis methods we list above are aimed at processing data and answering research questions, these techniques differ in their intent and the approaches applied.  

Choosing the right analysis method for your team isn't a matter of preference—selecting a method that fits is only possible when you define your research goals and have a clear intention. Once you know what you need (and why you need it), you can identify an analysis method that aligns with your objectives.

Gather qualitative data with Hotjar

Use Hotjar’s product experience insights in your qualitative research. Collect feedback, uncover behavior trends, and understand the ‘why’ behind user actions.

FAQs about qualitative data analysis methods

What is the qualitative data analysis approach.

The qualitative data analysis approach refers to the process of systematizing descriptive data collected through interviews, surveys, and observations and interpreting it. The method aims to identify patterns and themes behind textual data.

What are qualitative data analysis methods?

Five popular qualitative data analysis methods are:

What is the process of qualitative data analysis?

The process of qualitative data analysis includes six steps:

Define your research question

Prepare the data

Choose the method of qualitative analysis

Code the data

Identify themes, patterns, and relationships

Make hypotheses and act

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  • Educational Development Unit
  • Teaching toolkit
  • Educational research methods
  • Analysing and writing up your research

Types of data analysis

The means by which you analyse your data are largely determined by the nature of your research question , the approach and paradigm within which your research operates, the methods used, and consequently the type of data elicited. In turn, the language and terms you use in both conducting and reporting your data analysis should reflect these.

The list below includes some of the more commonly used means of qualitative data analysis in educational research – although this is by no means exhaustive. It is also important to point out that each of the terms given below generally encompass a range of possible methods or options and there can be overlap between them. In all cases, further reading is essential to ensure that the process of data analysis is valid, transparent and appropriately systematic, and we have provided below (as well as in our further resources and tools and resources for qualitative data analysis sections) some recommendations for this.

If your research is likely to involve quantitative analysis, we recommend the books listed below.

Types of qualitative data analysis

  • Thematic analysis
  • Coding and/or content analysis
  • Concept map analysis
  • Discourse or narrative analysis
  • Grouded theory
  • Phenomenological analysis or interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA)

Further reading and resources

As a starting point for most of these, we would recommend the relevant chapter from Part 5 of Cohen, Manion and Morrison (2018), Research Methods in Education. You may also find the following helpful:

For qualitative approaches

Savin-Baden, M. & Howell Major, C. (2013) Data analysis. In Qualitative Research: The essential guide to theory and practice . (Abingdon, Routledge, pp. 434-450).

For quantitative approaches

Bors, D. (2018) Data analysis for the social sciences (Sage, London).


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  5. What is Data Analysis?: Process, Types, Methods, and Techniques

    It involves applying statistical techniques such as hypothesis testing, confidence intervals, and regression analysis. It helps generalize

  6. 8 Types of Analysis in Research

    8 Types of Analysis in Research · 1) Exploratory Data Analysis (EDA) · 2) Descriptive data analysis · 3) Causal data analysis · 4) Predictive

  7. Research Methods

    Research Methods | Definitions, Types, Examples · For quantitative data, you can use statistical analysis methods to test relationships between variables. · For

  8. Types of Data Analysis

    The first type of data analysis is descriptive analysis. It is at the foundation of all data insight. It is the simplest and most common use of data in business

  9. Data Analysis in Research: Types & Methods

    Definition of research in data analysis: According to LeCompte and Schensul, research data analysis is a process used by researchers to reduce data to a story

  10. 3.1 Types of Analysis

    Descriptive and inferential are the two general types of statistical analyses in quantitative research. Descriptive includes simple calculations of central

  11. The 4 Types of Data Analysis [Ultimate Guide]

    There are four main types of data analysis to be aware of: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive. Learn all about them here.

  12. What is data analysis? Methods, techniques, types & how-to

    Analyze: With the help of various techniques such as statistical analysis, regressions, neural networks, text analysis, and more, you can start

  13. 5 Qualitative Data Analysis Methods to Reveal User Insights

    Content analysis. Thematic analysis. Narrative analysis. Grounded theory analysis. Discourse analysis. Let's look at each method one

  14. Types of data analysis

    If your research is likely to involve quantitative analysis, we recommend the books listed below. Types of qualitative data analysis. Thematic analysis