Social Science 10

Data Collection and Analysis in the Social Sciences

John Pfister

Winter 1995

Course Goals

The general purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the tools necessary to conceptualize, conduct, interpret, and communicate research in the social sciences. Much of the focus of this course will be on the data collection and quantitative analysis (descriptive and inferential statistics) phases of research. It is important to remember that we are all consumers of quantitative information; consumer polls, advertising claims, political outcomes, and the information in scientific journals are all based on statistical reasoning. A grasp of the basic principles of scientific methodology and statistics provides you with information to make intelligent life decisions outside your field of interest. For example, in this course we will ponder such questions as,

...why there are no more great .400 hitters in baseball,
...why the kind of survey you choose to listen to can tell you whether or not your spouse is having an affair,
...which is more probable: rolling at least one six in four throws of a single die or rolling at least one double six in 24 throws of a pair of dice, and
...which statistical test has been touted as one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century.

General Policies and Expectations

Required text: Moore & McCabe, Introduction to the Practice of Statistics, Second edition, W.H. Freeman, 1993.
Phillips, How to Think About Statistics, Revised edition, W.H. Freeman,1992.

The instructor:
My office is 214 Gerry (X1659), and the door is almost always open. Feel free to come to me with questions about the text, exams, lectures, and general administration of the course. My office hours for this course are Tuesdays and Thursdays: 10:00-11:00am. However, I can be reached almost any weekday morning.

The assistants:
Cynthia Wilson's office is Silsby 316A (x3431)
and her office hours are T: 12-1, and W: 10-11.

Class meetings:
Class meetings will be in Rocky 2 on M-W-F: 8:45-9:50am.
Our X-hour, when needed, is scheduled for T: 8:45-9:50.

Technical Support:
You will need a scientific calculator and it should contain statistical functions and memory. It will be needed for the homework and in-class exercises.

Later in the semester you may need WORMSTAT Version 2.0, a licensed application controlled by Dartmouth's Keyserver. Follow the filepath "Public Test>Macintosh Software>Site Licensed" to find it. Please copy the manual to the computer you use.

The requirements for SS10 will be: 4 take-home exercises (20% of your grade), three 1-hour exams (45% of your grade) a research project (15% of your grade), class participation (5% of your grade), and a cumulative final exam (15% of your final grade).


There will be three hourly exams and a cumulative final. Tests will consist a combination of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, short answer and essay questions. These exams will cover both the class meetings and the readings for one part of the course. Each exam is cumulative.

Policy for missed exams is very stringent. For those few individuals who have legitimate reasons (illness, etc.) for not being able to take an exam at the scheduled time, arrangements for the taking of the exam prior to its scheduled time must be made with me as soon as you know that you cannot make the exam. If a student misses an exam without an excuse, a grade of zero will result.


On four occasions during the semester, you will be given a take-home assignment to complete. In some cases the assignment will concentrate on a writing assignment (explaining a scientific abstract, identifying a flaw in an experiment, etc.) and in other cases, the assignment will be a series of problem from the end of each chapter. Exercises are usually collected the Wednesday after they have been handed out and late exercises will be assessed a penalty of 5% per day.


IIn order to apply the principles that you have learned during the course of the semester, we will require you to complete a research project of your own. This assignment will require you to formulate a hypothesis, design an experiment, collect data, analyze that data and communicate your results. This sounds challenging, but it can be the most interesting part of the semester. We'll discuss the details of this project later in the semester.

Course Schedule

Dates Topic

1/4 Introduction

1/5 Film introduction: "What is statistics?" and "Picturing Distributions" (X-hour)

1/6 The language of science, numbers, and the systematic study of data (M & M: Chps. 1.1, 1.2; Phillips: Chps. 1 & 2).

1/9 The art of the visual display of numbers

1/11 How to describe distributions (Phillips: Chps. 3, 4)

1/13 The normal distribution (M & M: 1.3, Phillips: Chp. 5) Exercise 1 handed out.


1/18 The relationship between numbers: Correlation (M & M: 2.4, 2.5, 2.6; Phillips: Chps. 9, 10)

1/20 A brief overview of experimental designs, surveys and sampling (M & M: Chapter 3) Exercise 1 collected.

1/23 EXAM 1 (MATERIAL FROM 1/4 to 1/18)

1/25 A brief overview of experimental designs, surveys and sampling (M & M: Chapter 3)

1/27 Randomness and probability (M & M: Chp. 4)

1/30 Getting from probability to inferential statistics: the binomial distribution and its relatives (M & M: 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 6.3; Phillips: Chp. 6).

2/1 Estimating with confidence, errors of inference and your first statistical test (M & M: 6.1, 6.2,6.3; Phillips: Chp. 6). Exercise 2 handed out.

2/3 Errors of inference and the t-distribution (M & M: 6.2, 6.3; Phillips: Chp. 6)

2/6 Inference for a population (M & M: 7.1)

2/8 Comparing two means and a few last words about experimental design (M & M: 7.2; Phillips: Chp. 7) Exercise 2 collected.

2/9 X-Hour (9-10am): EXAM 2 (MATERIAL FROM 1/20-2/6).

2/13 Comparing two means and a few last words about experimental design (M & M: 7.1, 7.2; Phillips: Chp. 7)

2/17 Nonparametric tests (Review M & M: pp. 512-517) Exercise 3 handed out.

2/20 Chi-square tests (M & M: 8.1, 8.2, 8.3; Phillips: Chp. 8, pp. 86-89)

2/22 Inference for a correlation (M & M: pp. 669-672)

2/24 Analysis of Variance I: Single factor designs. (M & M: 10.1; Phillips: Chp. 8, pp. 90-109). Exercise 3 collected.

2/27 EXAM 3 (MATERIAL FROM 2/8-2/22).

3/1 Analysis of Variance II: Two factor designs and permutations (M & M: 10.2; Phillips: Chp. 8, pp. 90-109).

3/3 Analysis of Variance III: Zen and the art of ANOVA (M & M: 10.2; Phillips: Chp. 8, pp. 90-109). Exercise 4 handed out.

3/6 Final words, project presentations.

3/8 Project presentations and a few words about the final exam. Exercise 4 collected.


Alternative abilities: I truly encourage those students with disabilities (as defined by the Academic Skill Center), including "invisible" disabilities like chronic diseases and learning disabilities, to discuss with me after class or during my office hours appropriate accommodations that might be useful to them. -:- 6188 Hinman Hanover, NH 03755-0331 -:- FAX: (603) 646-1312
Summer 1996