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NUR 39000: Nursing Research: Inferential Statistics Tips

Information about library resources for students enrolled in Nursing 39000

Inferential Statistics

This page offers tips on understanding and locating inferential statistics within research articles.

Key Terms & Concepts


All of the subjects with a shared attribute (country, hospital, medical condition, etc.).


A small subset of a population.

Why a sample? It’s necessary to use a sample of a population because it is usually not practical (physically, financially, etc.) to measure or test the whole population.  Instead, the sample is used to represent the entire population.


To form an opinion from evidence or to reach a conclusion based on known facts.

Inferential statistics use research/observations/data about a sample to draw conclusions (or inferences) about the population.


Basic Inferential Statistics: Theory and Application - Basic information about inferential statistics by the Purdue Owl.

Definitions of Inferential Statistics -- Definitions of inferential statistics and statistical analysis provided by Science Direct. 

Inferential Statistics in Research Articles

Articles with inferential statistics rarely have the actual words “inferential statistics” assigned to them.  Similarly, authors rarely call inferential statistics “inferential statistics.”

As a result, you must understand what inferential statistics are and look for signs of inferential statistics within the article.


Healthcare processes must be improved to reduce the occurrence of orthopaedic adverse events. Unbeck, M; et al. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences. 24, 4, 671-677, Dec. 2010. ISSN: 0283-9318.

The inferential statistics in this article are the data associated with the researchers’ efforts to identify factors which affect all adult orthopedic inpatients (population) based on a study of 395 patients (sample).

The use of bronchodilators in people with recently acquired tetraplegia: a randomised cross-over trial. Barratt, D; et al.  Spinal Cord. 50, 11, 836-839, Nov. 2012. ISSN: 1362-4393.

The inferential statistics in this article are the data associated with the researchers’ efforts to identify the effects of bronchodilator therapy on FEV1, FVC and PEF on patients (population) with recently acquired tetraplegia based on the 12 participants (sample) with acute tetraplegia who were admitted to a spinal injury unit and met the randomized controlled trial’s inclusion criteria.