The term inferential statistics refers to applying statistical analysis with observed data for the purpose of making inferences to that which cannot be observed. Although a descriptive statistic is an index that is calculated on a set of data to represent some property of that data, an inferential statistic is calculated from the data as a means of inferring more general properties that go beyond observable data. A common way to conceptualize inferential statistics is to consider that researchers are interested in understanding some property, such as center or variability, of data for a population (e.g., all fourth graders in the United States), yet there are constraints (e.g., access and cost) that keep them from collecting all of the data. Consequently, researchers would obtain data ...
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