Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Cats, whiskers and fiendish plots!

I've been thinking about figures a lot lately and I've been putting a lot of figures into a spreadsheet and fiddling with them! I was never very good at maths at school, and it has only just occurred to me, since my daughter has been doing her GCSE statistics coursework, that what I have actually been doing over the years, in a very amateurish way, is generating statistics - on an allbeit basic level!

Cataloguing is one area of information work that is fairly easy to quantify, and if you collect, collate and analyse the right kind of data, you could be helping to provide anything from an efficient acquisition process, to justifying the employment of your staff.

I err on the side of collecting anything and everything because, while you may not have a use for all of it now, someone may ask you a question one day that can be easily answered if you have collected the raw data. Besides, how long does it take to record a few five-bar gates?

As I have only just cottoned on to the fact that I am dealing with statistics, I have been using Microsoft Excel to record data and produce very basic graphs, as well as doing a lot of calculations by hand because I'm not that familiar with Excel and haven't really got time to learn! However, now that I know that there is a name for what I am doing, I may well look into statistics in a bit more detail, maybe dip into a book or two (Statistics for dummies, perhaps?). Who knows, I might find it useful to find out about SPSS, or do a formal qualification!