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  • Understanding Common Errors in Applied Statistics Assignments and How to Avoid Them

    April 24, 2023
    Thomas Walsh
    Thomas Walsh
    Walsh has a PhD in applied statistics and has worked with many students to get them good grades on their assignments and tests.

    Applied statistics is a hard subject that requires a deep understanding of math and the ability to think critically. Students often make mistakes when working on applied statistics assignments, which can lead to wrong results and low grades. In this blog, we'll talk about some of the most common mistakes made in applied statistics assignments and how to avoid them.

    1. Data Entry Errors

    One of the most common mistakes in applied statistics assignments is making a mistake when entering data. These mistakes happen when data are not put into the statistical software or database correctly. There are many kinds of mistakes that can happen when entering data, such as misspelled names, wrong dates, and missing data.

    Errors in entering data can be very bad for the reliability of statistical analyses. Even small mistakes in entering data can cause the results and conclusions to be wrong. For example, a misspelled name can cause a person to be left out of a dataset, which can affect how the whole analysis is done. In the same way, wrong dates can make time series analyses wrong, and missing data can make parameter estimates wrong.

    Before putting the data into the statistical software, it is important to double-check it to make sure it is correct. Using validation rules or automated checks to find possible mistakes is one way to do this. Also, it is important to check the data after entering it to make sure it was entered correctly.

    Another way to avoid making mistakes when entering data is to use software that checks for mistakes on its own. Some statistical software, for example, has a feature that checks automatically for mistakes when you enter data. This can help save time and stop mistakes from happening.

    2. Misinterpreting the Question

    When working on applied statistics assignments, students often make the mistake of misinterpreting the question. If you misunderstand the question, you might come to the wrong conclusions and analyses. Students may misunderstand the question for a number of reasons, such as not reading the instructions carefully, not understanding the language used in the question, or making assumptions about what the question is asking.

    It is important to read the question and instructions carefully so that you don't miss something. Make sure you understand the specific terms and ideas that are used in the question. If you don't understand any part of the question, ask your teacher or TA to explain it. Lastly, don't guess what the question is asking. Instead, make sure you answer the question that was asked, not what you think it is asking.

    3. Using Incorrect Statistical Methods

    Applied statistics assignments often go wrong because the wrong statistical method was used. Students often use the methods they know best instead of thinking about which statistical method is best for the problem at hand. This can lead to wrong conclusions and wrong results.

    To avoid making this mistake, you must read the question and problem carefully and understand them. Think about the type of data being analyzed and the question being asked. Think about which statistical methods would work best with the data and the question.

    Also, it is important to know what assumptions the statistical method you are using is based on. If the data don't match the assumptions, the results might be wrong or give the wrong impression. Before doing an analysis, it is important to check the assumptions and change the analysis if needed.

    Lastly, if you don't know which statistical method to use, ask your instructor or a statistical consultant for help. They can help you figure out the best way to do things and make sure your results are accurate and trustworthy.

    4. Inappropriate Sampling Methods

    Sampling is an important part of statistics because it lets statisticians collect data from a subset of a larger population. But using the wrong sampling methods can lead to conclusions that are biased or wrong.

    One common mistake in sampling is to use "convenience sampling," which means to choose people who are easy to reach or are available. This can make the sample not very representative, since some groups may be over- or under-represented.

    Using a small sample size is another mistake that can lead to wrong estimates and more variation. This is a problem when studying a large population, because a small sample may not be a good representation of the whole population.

    Another problem that can happen when sampling methods aren't right is sampling bias. This happens when some parts of the population are consistently over- or under-represented in the sample. For example, a study about income levels may have a sampling bias if it only asks people from wealthy neighborhoods to take part.

    It is important to use the right sampling methods to avoid making these kinds of mistakes. This could mean using random sampling methods to make sure that every person in the population has the same chance of being chosen for the sample. Also, stratified sampling may be needed to make sure that enough people from certain groups are included in the sample.

    When choosing a sample size, it is also important to think about the size of the sample and how different the population is. In general, a larger sample size is more representative of the whole population. However, it may be more expensive and take more time to collect data from a larger sample.

    Lastly, it's important to know about any possible biases in the sample and take steps to fix them. This could mean getting more information from groups that aren't well-represented or using statistical methods to correct for any biases in the sample.

    By using the right sampling methods and addressing possible biases, statisticians can make sure that their data accurately represent the population and that their conclusions are reliable and valid.

    5. Not Checking Assumptions

    Before using a statistical model in applied statistics, it is important to make sure that the assumptions are correct. To make sure that the statistical model is correct, assumptions are made about how the data is set up. If these assumptions aren't followed, the results and conclusions can be wrong.

    Normality, independence, linearity, and homoscedasticity are some of the most common assumptions. Normality means that the data are spread out in a normal way. This is necessary for many common statistical tests, like t-tests, ANOVA, and regression. Independence assumes that the observations are independent of each other, which means that the value of one observation does not affect the value of another. Linearity assumes that the independent variable and the dependent variable have a straight line relationship. Homoscedasticity says that the variance of the dependent variable is the same at all levels of the independent variable.

    If you don't check your assumptions, it can cause a lot of trouble. For example, the results of statistical tests may not be reliable if the assumption of normality is broken. If the assumption of independence is broken, the strength of the relationship between variables may be overestimated or underestimated. If the linearity assumption is broken, it can lead to biased estimates and wrong conclusions, and if the homoscedasticity assumption is broken, it can lead to wrong estimates of the standard error.

    To avoid making mistakes because of bad sampling methods, it is important to understand the assumptions that statistical models are based on and to check carefully to see if those assumptions are met. Statistical methods may need to be changed if the assumptions are broken. Also, it's important to use the right sample sizes and sampling methods to make sure the results are true to the whole population.

    6. Not Considering Outliers

    Outliers are data points that are very different from the rest of the observations in the data set. These data points can have a big effect on the results of statistical analysis, so it's important to take them into account when analyzing data. If you don't take outliers into account, you might come to wrong conclusions and make mistakes in your statistical analysis.

    One common mistake is to just ignore or get rid of outliers without figuring out how they affect the results. This can, however, lead to skewed results and wrong conclusions. Instead, it's important to look at outliers carefully to see if they are real or if they were caused by mistakes in how the data was collected or measured.

    In some cases, outliers may be legitimate data points that represent unique or extreme observations. In other cases, they could be caused by mistakes in how the data was collected, measured, or entered. In either case, it's important to look into and understand how outliers affect the results of statistical analysis.

    In statistical analysis, there are several ways to deal with outliers. These include using robust statistical methods that are less affected by outliers, changing the data to make outliers less noticeable, and leaving out outliers that are caused by measurement errors or other sources of error. But it's important to think carefully about how these methods will affect the whole analysis and to report any changes made to the data set or statistical methods used.

    By taking outliers into account and dealing with them in the right way, you can improve the accuracy and reliability of statistical analysis and avoid common mistakes that can make your results less reliable.

    7. Using Incorrect Software

    Researchers have a lot of software programs to choose from when they want to do statistical analyses. R, SAS, SPSS, and Stata, to name a few, are some of the most common types of software used in applied statistics. But students and researchers often make the mistake of using the wrong software for their analysis.

    Each piece of software has its own strengths and weaknesses, which may make it better for some types of analyses than others. For example, R is known for being versatile and easy to use. This makes it a great choice for analyzing and displaying complex data. SPSS, on the other hand, is easier to use and is most often used for simple analyses like t-tests and ANOVAs.

    If the wrong software is used for an analysis, the results and conclusions can be wrong. It is important to choose the right software based on the research question, the type of data, and the level of analysis. Also, it's important to make sure the software being used is up-to-date, since old software might not support the latest statistical methods and could cause mistakes in analyses.

    Before choosing a software package, researchers should carefully think about their research question and data to avoid making this mistake. They should also ask their teachers or a statistical consultant for help to make sure they use the right software for their analysis.

    8. Not Getting Results Across Well

    One of the most important parts of any applied statistics assignment is getting the results across clearly. This means that the statistical analysis needs to be correctly interpreted and the results need to be shown in a clear and concise way.

    One common mistake people make when sharing results is to use technical language that the audience may not understand. It's important to use words that regular people can understand and explain any technical terms used in the analysis.

    Another common mistake is to show results without giving enough background or explanation. It's important to give a short overview of the study, explain what the goals of the analysis are, and give a clear summary of the results. This helps the reader understand why the results are important and what they mean.

    In addition to these mistakes, it is also important not to show results that are biased or wrong. This can happen if the researcher only shows some of the data or leaves out some variables that could change how the analysis turns out. Even if the results are not what was expected, it is important to give a full and fair picture of them.

    Lastly, one common mistake that people make when communicating results is not using the right visual aids to help people understand. Graphs, charts, and tables are all good ways to show statistical information in a way that is clear and easy to understand.

    Overall, for any applied statistics assignment to be successful, results must be communicated well. Researchers can make sure that their work is well-received and understood by the people they want to reach by avoiding these common mistakes.


    Applied statistics is a hard subject that requires a deep understanding of math and the ability to think critically. When working on assignments that involve applied statistics, it is important to avoid making common mistakes that can lead to wrong results and low grades. By understanding the common mistakes talked about in this blog and using the tips given, students can avoid making these mistakes and do a good job on their assignments. Remember to always check your data twice, read and understand the question carefully, use the right statistical methods and software, check your assumptions, think about outliers, and explain your results well.

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