If a result is statistically significant, that means it’s unlikely to be explained solely by chance or random factors. In other words, a statistically significant result has a very low chance of occurring if there were no true effect in a research study.
The p value, or probability value, tells you the statistical significance of a finding. In most studies, a p value of 0.05 or less is considered statistically significant, but this threshold can also be set higher or lower.
The standard error of the mean, or simply standard error, indicates how different the population mean is likely to be from a sample mean. It tells you how much the sample mean would vary if you were to repeat a study using new samples from within a single population.
The standard error of the mean (SE or SEM) is the most commonly reported type of standard error. But you can also find the standard error for other statistics, like medians or proportions. The standard error is a common measure of sampling error—the difference between a population parameter and a sample statistic.
A parameter is a number describing a whole population (e.g., population mean), while a statistic is a number describing a sample (e.g., sample mean).
The goal of quantitative research is to understand characteristics of populations by finding parameters. In practice, it’s often too difficult, time-consuming or unfeasible to collect data from every member of a population. Instead, data is collected from samples.
With inferential statistics, we can use sample statistics to make educated guesses about population parameters.
In a normal distribution, data is symmetrically distributed with no skew. When plotted on a graph, the data follows a bell shape, with most values clustering around a central region and tapering off as they go further away from the center.
Normal distributions are also called Gaussian distributions or bell curves because of their shape.
The mean, or arithmetic mean, of a data set is the sum of all values divided by the total number of values. It’s the most commonly used measure of central tendency and is often referred to as the “average.”
The mode or modal value of a data set is the most frequently occurring value. It’s a measure of central tendency that tells you the most popular choice or most common characteristic of your sample.
When reporting descriptive statistics, measures of central tendency help you find the middle or the average of your data set. The three most common measures of central tendency are the mode, median, and mean.