Skip Navigation Bar

National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

The Limits of Prepared Reports
Page 23 of 40
Validity Depends on Use
Publish reports provide results prepared by analysts working on the statistical projects that created the data.
  • Other scholars may offer different interpretations of the data.
  • Web based tools allow researchers to create their own tables which reflect their needs and answer their questions rather than being limited to material selected for a printed report.

Selected Material Reflects Implied
While the tables and charts included in a statistical report may seem to be simple renditions of results, in fact, they represent a selection of material.
  • If a researcher finds this material fits his or her questions, the material is useful and on point.
  • However, each researcher brings their own set of analytical questions to the data. 
  • To the extent that tables do not respond to those particular issues or questions, the material may be less useful. 
  • It is not a question of the abstract validity of the tables or the reported results, but rather its fit with the questions a researcher brings.

Researchers using the web can now go beyond the material found in published sources to:
  • Specify the particular type of tables they want or
  • Access public use files to calculate new tables
They might also decide to:
  • Collect their own data to supplement the reported results.
Page 23 of 40