Monash University Handbooks 2008

SYM4015 - Secondary Analysis of Official Statistics

12 points, SCA Band 1, 0.250 EFTSL

Postgraduate Faculty of Arts

Leader: Ernest Healy


Caulfield Second semester 2008 (Evening)


In secondary analysis the researcher does not design how to collect the data, nor is he/she involved in the collection of the data, but he/she has access to the data and will (or have) conduct(ed) your own analysis. In this course students will re-analyse 'official statistics' from the Australian census and ABS Labour Force Survey (but other data sources may also be considered). Students are required to collect, analyse and write report on data from these sources. The skills learnt will be relevant for jobs that require research using quantitative secondary data. The unit is also relevant for those who may undertake theoretical or applied research for a higher degree in the future.


  1. To make students aware of the data available for analysis; locate, collate, analyse and write reports based on secondary official data;
  2. Students learn the importance of the use of comparative data for policy research; will learn to use time series data to understand the present and the past;
  3. This is a broad ranging course and students will not become a specialist in any specific area. Rather they will be exposed to a broad range of official statistics;
  4. We will look at the ethical problems encountered when doing secondary analysis. Official statistics embody values and ideologies that are not 'value-free' or 'objective'. Students will be expected to learn to look out for such things as political motives, sexism, racism and classism in the operational definitions used by the primary researchers. Furthermore, students will also be expected to look out for these things in the definitions they construct in the re-analysis of secondary data.


Four research reports (2250 words each): 25% each.

Contact hours

2 hours (1 x 2 hour seminar) per week



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