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What is the role played by statistics in research?

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Statistics as a form of scientific discipline plays an important role in research because it enables the researcher to develop accurate and reasonable inferences from relevant data collections. In this way, the researcher is able to make more informed decisions rather than facing uncertainties. This is particularly important in the area of medical research and can help to prevent or minimize biases and errors.

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Researchers must often generalize from the few to the many in their work. The incorporation of statistics into their methods enables them to use empirical evidence in the formulation of their theories. To better establish the hypothesis, a researcher can compare previously proven theories with the statistical evidence for the new hypothesis. Statistics can also be applied to different aspects of a scientific or academic inquiry including the planning, sampling and interpretation stages of a research plan.

Some of the earliest uses of statistics were in 17th-century inquiries into games of chance and gave rise to probability theory. Modern concepts of statistics began to develop in the late 19th century when its use in politics, industry and science transformed the field into a rigorous mathematical discipline. The incorporation of modern computer systems into statistical studies has enabled the data collection and interpretation to be performed on a scale that was previously impossible.

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