Data Analysis

The Bodleian Data Library recommends searching SOLO for books on data analysis to find out more about general options and approaches.
Relevant journals can also be useful resources to find additional discussion of analysis, tools as well as examples of research conducted with it.

Concepts growing in popularity such as big data and data mining are attracting a lot of support from video tutorials on YouTube or

Many of the tools described on this page have similar capabilities so choice is often based upon how commonly they are used within certain disciplines, how well they are documented and how readily available they are in practice.

Statistical analysis


Microsoft Excel is one of the most commonly used spreadsheet packages using a grid of cells in rows and columns to organise data. It can be used to carry out arithmetic calculations and display data as graphs, histograms and charts.




Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) is used widely in business, marketing as well as academia. It is a starting point for most interested in analysis of statistical data and also produced tabulations and graphics. SPSS may also function as a data organisation and limited research documentation tool. It is easy to learn and is often recommended for general use.



A software package that is an alternative to SPSS and performs similar functions of analysis, modelling and tabulation. It takes longer to learn than SPSS but is more powerful and flexible. In addition it benefits from regular updates of its techniques. A number of versions are available aimed at educational use, large volumes of data, multiprocessor computers as well as the standard version (Stata/IC).


  • STATA is not available for instant access on either Library or MRB-networked PCs, however it is available to eligible students and staff in departments and centres within the Manor Road Building. Each department/centre decides who is eligible, and nominates them to the MRB IT Team who send a username and password and instructions for downloading the software onto their own device. See here for further information about access via MRB.
    Students can also purchase STATA at a reduced cost for their own devices from the supplier Timberlake.



An open source freely available language and environment for statistical computing and graphics which provides a wide variety of statistical and graphical techniques: linear and nonlinear modelling, statistical tests, time series analysis, classification and clustering. It is a major rival of SPSS and Stata.



Bloomberg Professional

A subscription service that makes available financial information, news, reports, data and analysis. It contains near real-time and historical financial information on individual equities, stock market indices, fixed-income securities, commodities, currencies, and futures for both international and domestic markets. Data can be downloaded into excel. The service features an integrated set of indepth tutorials which should be used and understood by first time users.



Nesstar is a software system for online data analysis developed within the national data archiving community and in particular by the Norwegian Social Science Data Service (NSD). As a result the software also features tools to allow sharing and dissemination of data. Nesstar handles survey data and multidimensional tables as well as text resources. Users can search, browse and analyse the data online. It is supported by other archives such as the UK Data Service.


  • Trial licences for Nesstar Server & Webview, plus freeware version of Nesstar Publisher available from Nesstar


A browser based tool recently developed by the UK Data Service for exploration of a number of its key macro data collections. It is an attempt to integrate analysis and visualisation with the point of data access.



Textual and audio-visual analysis

Textual or mixed method analytical programs are often grouped together under the title of ‘computer assisted qualitative data analysis software’ (CAQDAS). Further information about CAQDAS software can be found on the University of Surrey's CAQDAS page and the University of Huddersfield's Online QDA website.


NVivo is a software package created to deal with qualitative or mixed methods data such as interviews and focus groups. This may either be in the form of text transcriptions or certain types of audio and video recordings. It allows extensive annotation and segmentation of data as part of organisation, categorisation and analysis.




This is an alternative to Nvivo and handles a similar range of data types allowing organisation, colour coding and retrieval of data. Text, audio or video may equally be dealt with by this software package. A range of data visualisation tools are also included.


  • Trial licences available from MAXQDA


Atlas.ti offers similar tools to analyse and code a wide range of text and audio visual data and it is also useful for geo-spatial data.



Geospatial tools


A geographic information system, ArcGIS 10.2 can be used by anyone working with geospatial data or in fact any statistical information that includes geographical variables such as location, elevation, population density and so on. If the information being used features a geographical representation of the world as part of the mix then ArcGIS should be of interest. It can be used to:

  • View maps/mapped information as part of analysis;
  • Compile geographic data;
  • Build and edit maps to help analysis or visualisation;
  • Amend properties and fields in geospatial databases and generally manage such information;
  • Develop projects that draw on the large user base and functionality this package has built up.

It can be used with any geo-spatial data such as the Landscan population database.


ArcGIS Desktop is available on library computers in the Social Science Library (can be found in the all programs menu), and the Radcliffe Science Library Training Room.



Can be used to work with Google Earth files: create documents from KML (Keyhole Markup Language) or KMZ files (zipped KML files), which will start Google Earth and fly you to a specified location. Google earth functionality is thus enabled from within ATLAS.ti.


A geographic information system (GIS) popular among entry-level users due to its low cost and ease of use. GIS is software that is designed to store, query, analyse, process, and visualise spatial data.


Geospatial Analysis online

A free online resource, based on the book Geospatial Analysis: a comprehensive guide (5th Edition, 2015 - de Smith, Goodchild, Longley) introduces concepts, methods and tools, provides many examples using a variety of software tools such as ArcGIS, etc. to clarify the concepts discussed. It aims to be comprehensive (but not necessarily exhaustive) in terms of concepts and techniques, representative and independent in terms of software tools, and above all practical in terms of application and implementation.

Data reference management

You can use reference management software to organise data citations:


In Endnote use the reference type for "dataset".


In Mendeley use other more generic reference type templates and fill in the essentials for your dataset.


In Zotero enter the citation in the system as a "Document," depending upon if/how the data producer provides a recommended citation, either:

  • Export an RIS file and import this file into Zotero
  • Copy and paste the information from a recommended citation into a new Zotero item with the type "Document"
  • Otherwise, use the "Document" item type to add the components of the citation.

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