Reading evidence
Reading evidence

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Reading evidence

1.4 Conclusion

The aim of this course has been to try to draw together work on numbers and text, and to try to be helpful to those who, like me, find numbers and statistics rather unapproachable. Evidence is used in social science to convince us of the value of a claim, and is a crucial element in our evaluation of theoretical perspectives.

Key points

  • Reading evidence is a skill, which we already use in our daily lives.

  • There are two main elements to acquiring this skill: practice, and learning the conventions associated with how different sorts of evidence are presented.

  • Reading evidence requires time and effort.

  • We need to take care when reading evidence, particularly more abstract forms of evidence like statistics.

  • Quantitative evidence helps show the scale and dimension of social phenomena.

  • Statistics are useful because they can provide lots of evidence quickly, and help us to see and remember patterns.

  • Qualitative evidence is useful because it adds depth and richness to our understanding of social phenomena by personalising and humanising them.

  • There is useful evidence in even the most subjective account.

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