When analysing data there are a number of issues that a researcher should take into consideration.

Analysing data may help to identify if the root cause is:

  • Due to a one-off unexpected event
  • The result of an on-going issue such as a systematic failure or procedural breakdown


The researcher should be cognisant of the following:

  1. Inaccurate reporting will lead to a false depiction.
  2. Influence of personnel for subjective data
    • Some staff may be more reluctant to report information, non-conformances etc. than other staff.
    • There will be a degree of variance in reporting ratings/scores.
  3. Prior history of reporting
    • A predecessor may not report something that a new employee chooses to do or vice versa for example reporting results for Clostridium perfringens. The outcome may reflect an increase in incidents of Cl.perfringens, however if predecessor didn’t report on the number of colonies of Cl. perfingens it is not a true representation.
  4. Management style may differ between sites or departments influencing what is reported.
  5. Handling of a previous issue may significantly reduce or increase number reported.
  6. Organisations may differ on what they report.
  7. Organisational and regulatory measurements.
    • Where regulators are based on-site, incidents may be reported at higher rates.
  8. Proactive organisations are more likely to report issues and raise non-conformances etc.

People responsible for analysing data should be competent to do so. Where necessary, training should be undertaken. Those analysing data should:

  • Have the necessary skills to use appropriate data collection methods and analysis
  • Draw from an unbiased inference
  • If appropriate, determine statistical significance
  • Provide honest and accurate analysis