This section covers line graphs. We define the format, give some ideas about when it should be used, and draw some graphs. You can have a go at drawing a line graph in Activity 6, based on data that we supply.

A line graph, at its simplest, is a diagram that shows a line joining several points, or a line that shows the best possible relationship between the points. Sometimes the line will go through all of the points, and sometimes it will show the best possible fit. The line does not h
Author(s): The Open University

There are very few cases where a table will be the worst format to use. However, when you have a huge amount of data, you may wish to present some of it in a different format. Other formats for presenting data are explained in Sections 4â€“6.

Author(s): The Open University

Course image: Pink Sherbet Photography in Flickr made available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Licence.

The content acknowledged below is Proprietary (see terms and conditions) and is used under licence.

Grateful acknowled
Author(s): The Open University

The Scottish Learning Network at www.globalweb.co.uk/sln.html is a gateway to information, guidance, assessment and on-line education and training opportunities in Scotland. At the time of writing, there is nothing similar for England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

Author(s): The Open University

The median is the middle value of a set of numbers arranged in ascending (or descending) order. If the set has an even number of values then the median is the mean of the two middle numbers. For example:

1,Â 1,Â 2,Â 5,Â 8,Â 10,Â 12,Â 15,Â 24This set of nine values is arranged in ascending order and the median is 8.
32,Â 25,Â 20,Â 1
Author(s): The Open University

The mean is found by adding up all the values in a set of numbers and dividing by the total number of values in the set. This is what is usually meant by the word â€˜averageâ€™.

For example, if a company tests a sample of the batteries it manufactures to determine the lifetime of each battery, the mean result would be appropriate as a measure of the possible lifetime any of the batteries and could be used to promote the product.

Author(s): The Open University

Histograms are a special form of bar chart in which the bars usually touch each other because histograms always show data collected into â€˜groupsâ€™ along a continuous scale. They tend to be used when it's hard to see patterns in data, for example when there are only a few variables, or the actual amounts are spread over a wide range. For example, suppose you manufactured biscuits; it is important to manufacture closely to a given size, as there are regulations governing the sales of biscuit
Author(s): The Open University

We gain much of our mathematical information from our surroundings, including reading newspaper and magazine articles. A skill that will be useful to all of us in our studies is the ability to do this in a structured way, as it is very easy to be uncritical of the information that we see. Newspapers and magazines frequently place mathematical information in the form of graphs and diagrams. All too often, we tend to assume that the information is correct, without questioning possible bias or i
Author(s): The Open University

One of the obstacles that we see to understanding and working with mathematics is that people feel the need to avoid it entirely, because they feel nervous about it. Others don't feel as nervous, but may still avoid mathematical work. In practice, you may well be using more mathematical concepts than you think, as numbers are all around us; for example, when shopping, going out for a drink with friends, paying bills, or planning a budget so that you can take a holiday.

Author(s): The Open University

Mathematics is a subject about which people have strong views, and these can be negative, positive, or a combination of the two. Our own experience, as tutors and students of mathematics, is that mathematics is often seen by others as something that â€˜isn't for meâ€™, and one where beliefs and feelings, especially worry and even fear, can be strong, as a result of previous unhappy experiences. We have written this section to help you to look at your mathematical background, so that you can u
Author(s): The Open University

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.

The task here is very different from our task when faced with numbers, where we need to deal with a high level of abstraction. Writing is often dense and multi-layered, and usually gives us, if anything, too much surface information about our subject. We need to make a mental effort this time in selecting and abstracting information ourselves. In order to do this effectively we need to be aware of the context of the writing. We need to check if we can, for instance, the political and s
Author(s): The Open University

Social scientists use particular methods to gather qualitative evidence, from observation to interview, but they also use autobiographical accounts, journalism, and other documentary material to flesh out and add meaning to statistics.

As with reading numbers, reading textual evidence requires us to practise, to set time aside to learn how to do it, and to understand the conventions of writing which operate in the different forms of writing we encounter. One of the main pr
Author(s): The Open University

Examine in more detail the explanations surrounding the numbers or diagram. Check the small print to make sure you aren't drawing the wrong conclusions. Are the axes of diagrams clearly labelled, and do you understand what they mean? (Axes, pronounced â€˜axeaseâ€™ is the plural of axis. Axes are the vertical and horizontal lines against which lines on a graph or bars on a chart are plotted. They must be labelled to tell you what courses you are counting in.) If there is shading on the
Author(s): The Open University

After studying this course, you should be able to:

• identify that social scientists can collect evidence to support their claims and theories in different ways

• give examples of quantitative and qualitative evidence

• recognise a variety of methods for obtaining evidence

• understand the ways in which evidence can be presented; how to read it actively and with purpose.

Author(s): The Open University

Croall, H. (1998) Crime and Society in Britain, Harlow, Addison Wesley Longman.
Smith, D.J. (1997) â€˜Ethnic origins, crime and criminal justiceâ€™ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Criminology (2nd edn), Oxford, Clarendon Press.
Zedner, L. (1997) â€˜Victimsâ€™ in Maguire, M., Morgan, R. and Reiner, R. (eds) The Oxford Hand
Author(s): The Open University

Conclusion

This free course provided an introduction to studying sociology. It took you through a series of exercises designed to develop your approach to study and learning at a distance and helped to improve your confidence as an independent learner.

Author(s): The Open University

4 Taking the point: identifying key ideas

As earlier activities have demonstrated, active reading and note taking often come hand-in-hand. In order to read effectively we often have to jot down the main ideas and key words introduced in the text. We might also note down one or two questions as we go along to assist in the â€˜thinkingâ€™ part of the process. But, like reading, note taking comes in all shapes and sizes, and different kinds of notes can be useful for different purposes. Moreover, good note taking, like purposeful, activ
Author(s): The Open University