Statistics can be a powerful tool when writing a persuasive argument. They can:
Statistics, however, are not all powerful and should be used wisely. Some things to consider when using statistics:
When evaluating statistics, you need to ask the following questions:
Authority: Who is the author(s)? What are the author(s) qualitifcations/authority?
Date: What is the date range of the data and is it intended to be current or historical?
Purpose: Who is the intended audience? What type of publication is the data published in and is the data clearly represented?
Content: Are the statistics accurate? Can they be verified? Is there bias?
Will your audience understand the statistics you are using? If not, you need to explain the statistical procedure used. You can do this in an appendix, footnote, or within the body of your paper.
You will be helping the reader interpret your data in your paper, but it is important to give your reader enough information that they can reconstruct your argument from the statistics provided.
Visuals can display a lot of information in a manner that can be quickly understood.
From the Purdue OWL's "Quick Tips on Writing with Statistics".
The Writing Center consultants will help with integrating statistics into your writing and how to structure your argument, evidence, and analysis. The can also help you cite the statistics you use in the appropriate citation style. Check their website for hours and other services.