Statistics for NonStatisticians, Second Edition
Book Preface
Who Is this Book Written for?
The book is written for those who need to know how to collect, analyze, and present data. You may be working with administrative data, financial data, or data from the social sciences or natural sciences. Maybe you plan to collect data through sample surveys, such as customer surveys or similar.
You do not know much about statistics. Maybe you have learned a little about the topic earlier, but forgotten most of it again. Maybe you never learned anything about the topic, but you are curious!
Although the book does not require knowledge of statistics, I assume that you are not totally unfamiliar with numbers! You are able to perform simple calculations with a calculator. And you don’t panic, when you see a simple formula containing a square root! Don’t worry: This book is not loaded with mathematical formulas. But it is unfortunately impossible to introduce statistical concepts without a minimum of mathematical calculations.
It is an advantage, if you have a basic understanding of spreadsheets. This book is not a course in the use of spreadsheets—the easiest way to learn spreadsheets is by reading a computer booklet or taking a course! Neither is this a “How to do statistics with Excel” book—you can use the references in the literature list, if you need this. There are many books of this kind, often occupying hundreds of pages. . .
Yet it may be useful to know how the most important statistical calculations can be performed using the features of a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets have nowadays made numbers and graphs accessible to most people. This also applies to statistical calculations!
If you do not have access to a spreadsheet, I can recommend the spreadsheet Calc from Open Office (a free Office suite). See links to software in Appendix. Virtually everything discussed in this book can be done with this spreadsheet!
I recommend that, while reading the book, you work with some simple data, which you enter in a spreadsheet. It is easier to learn statistics if you work a little with the substance!
The beginner may be satisfied with a spreadsheet as a tool for statistical analysis.
In professional work with statistics, however, you will very quickly discover the limitations of a spreadsheet. Then it is time to consider a better tool for the purpose! Therefore, the Appendix presents some of the major programs for statistics as well as links, where you can find more about them.
It is my hope that the book can be used for private study and as supplementary reading at business colleges, technical schools, high schools, and the initial training of statistics at business schools and social sciences at a university level. The book is not written for any specific education.
After reading this book, you should have the ability to dig further into some of the many other books on statistics available on the market. It is my hope that this book can ease the transition to the reading of the (many) more advanced books on the subject. The number of books on statistics grows dramatically as the professional level rises!
The mathematically oriented reader has to accept that the book does not achieve 100% mathematical precision everywhere. Focus is on an understandable rather than mathematical precise presentation. Some topics in the book are a bit more “technical” than the rest of the book.
These issues can be skipped, without thereby losing coherence. Some of these items are placed in a text frame and entitled “Technical note: . . .” Some topics provide a clear indication that they may be skipped. They are often put at the end of a chapter.
There are also many examples of using spreadsheets. If you do not use spreadsheets, you can just read the examples, without bothering about how the results were obtained in the spreadsheet.
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