II. 3. Data reading exercise

A large part of conducting research online, and of information provided by media (election polls for example) relies on quantitative research and data. For example, media continually track ways in which users (audiences, the public) use their platforms – what they read, what they buy, what they share – and use that information to generate data and products.

The same data helps shape marketing strategies, it effects how a medium makes information available/suggested to us, can shape political and other campaigns and how they target supporters, etc. Therefore skills in reading quantitative data are valuable and help to better understand how information is produced and presented. Otherwise, as an audience, we uncritically accept what is provided to us without our ability to interrogate information that is presented as fact.

Surveys and polls are used to generate quantitative (numerical) data, usually presented through graphs and tables. Interviews, desk research, ethnography, oral history, etc., are considered as qualitative methods, and generally are part of analysis provided in narrative form.

Much of media content relies on research either carried our by the specific media outlet, or research conducted by organizations, institutions, institutes, academics, etc. They all have particular perspectives and can provide diverging interpretations.


Data reading exercise:

See the following document:

“Action Document on Violence and Safety in Public Schools in the Municipality of Prishtina”

http://www.undp.org/content/dam/kosovo/docs/actionpaper/action_papper_alb.pdf (Handout 2)


You can conduct this exercise alone or with a friend/class mate.


Choose any two graphs from the report and write your commentary. The following questions can help:

  • What is being measured? What questions are asked and what responses are given?
  • What is the issue/topic that is being researched?
  • What research methods were used?
  • What does the data say? In what ways does the data help you understand the issue?
  • Is this data similar/same/different from the information you gained by reading the articles in the previous section (II.2)?
  • Does this data collaborate or dismiss claims made in the articles? Give examples.

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