Quantitative Data Analysis Project

Dr. Jeremy M. Mikecz

Feb 4, 2019

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For your Quantitative Data Analysis project (due Mar. 6), you will compile, analyze, visualize, and map country-level data comparing select Latin American countries with North America and the world. After perusing the data variables available in the World Bank dataset and elsewhere, you will choose a set of three to six related variables for further analysis that will help you answer a specific historical question or set of questions. Final results will be incorporated into a paper on your Google Site. This paper will not only address your methods and results but will also critically assess how meaningful your data is. How was it collected? measured? What may have been missed? What can the data tell us? How do you incorporate such flaws into your analysis?

The paper will be 2000 - 3000 words (~6-8 pp.) and include:

  1. An introduction to the research problem(s) and questions. Begin by explaining the relevance of your question(s).
  2. A description of the data: where it came from, how it was collected, missing data, and any potential anomalies or problems you have noticed.
  3. A description of your methods. How did you go about preparing and analyzing the data? What are some potential weaknesses to this approach you need to account for?
  4. The results: What did you find? Present your results through a combination of text, tables, graphs, and maps.
  5. Discuss your interpretation and its implications: What did you learn? What new insights did you gain? How do these lessons differ from previous research or conventional wisdom? What is the importance of your findings? What broader application might they have?
  6. Conclusion: Summarize findings, make recommendations about the potential use of this research and potential directions for future research.

For more guidance on these steps, please see the guide to organizing a social science paper on the USC Libraries website. If you come from a qualitative, humanities background some of this will be unfamiliar, so please look through this guide carefully.

Step One (due Feb. 4): Identifying Research Data and Crafting a Research Question and Plan

Review available quantitative data. Choose a set of 3-6 related variables that will help you answer a specific and important historical question related to Latin America. Then describe how you plan to use this data to answer your question.

Prepare a short, one-page paper describing:

suggestion: download some of your data as .csv’s or excel files to see what the data looks like and ensure that you have the data you need (many variables are missing data for certain years and countries).

You can find country-level data at:

You may also want to look at other data available (but note working with this data will require more experimentation on your own time):

Data Visualization Study Session: Tuesday, Feb 19 (3:00pm Leavey Library?)

Step Two (due Feb. 25): First Draft of Paper with Data Visualization(s)

Following directions provided above, you will write a first draft of your paper. I prefer quality over quantity at this point. Thus, a polished (although not perfect) draft of the first three sections of the paper (Introduction, data, methods) with a skeletal outline of the last 3 sections (results, discussion, and conclusion) is perfectly acceptable and preferable to a really rough, but complete draft. Include at least one data visualization in this draft.

Step Three (due Wed, March 6): Final Draft of Paper

Submit the completed version of your paper that contains all six major parts outlined above as well as data visualizations and charts to make your argument.

Do note that - with the time you have - you will have mastered neither the history/economics/politics nor the data (science) behind this study. Therefore, you should acknowledge any potential problems with the data (in the data section), the limits of your methods (in the methods section), and unanswered questions (discussion section) and avenues for future research (conclusions).

Please refer to Cairo’s description of what makes good data analysis and visualization. Also refer to the USC Libraries’ guide to organizing a social science paper.