Detachment from real life

Researchers often note how ironical it is that months of hard labor can sometimes be summarized in one or two tables. While this may not be a problem in basic research - after all, Einstein's theory of relativity did not exactly take up several volumes either - in more applied studies when we are looking at concrete questions concerning real people, a primarily quantitative summary may lose some of the edge and flavor of the original issue. This is when a few open-ended items in the questionnaire might play a useful role in providing quotations that can help to retain or restore the real perspective. Furthermore, as Moser and Kalton (1971) remind us, to many readers, statistical tables are dull and difficult to comprehend, and a certain amount of verbatim quotation of answers can effectively enliven the report (cf. also Section 4.6.3, which describes a number of reader-friendly presentation techniques).

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