Analysis 101, part 1: Making an analytical plan

Catalogue number: 892000062020009

Release date: September 23, 2020

By the end of this video, you will learn about the basic concepts of the analytical process:

  • the guiding principles of analysis,
  • the steps of the analytical process and
  • planning your analysis.
Data journey step
Analyze, model
Data competency
Data analysis
Suggested prerequisites

Watch the video

Analysis 101, part 1: Making an analytical plan - Transcript

(The Statistics Canada symbol and Canada wordmark appear on screen with the title: "Analysis 101, part 1: Making an analytical plan")

Analysis 101: Part 1 - Making an analytical plan

Hi, welcome to analysis 101 video one making an analytical plan.

Learning goals

By the end of this video you will learn about the basic concepts of the analytical process: the guiding principles for analysis, the steps in the analytical process and planning your analysis. This video is intended for learners who want to acquire a basic understanding of analysis. No previous knowledge is required.

Analysis at your organization

Take a second to think about analysis at your organization. What role does analysis play? Are you and your colleagues producing briefing notes for senior leadership? Are you writing reports for clients or for your website? Are you doing more technical or descriptive work? Does your organization have guiding principles that you should be aware of? You'll be taking these into consideration when you plan your analysis.

Steps in the analytical process

(Diagram of 6 images representing the steps involved in the analyze phase of the data journey where the first steps represent the making of an analytical plan, the middle steps represent the implementation of said plan and the final steps are the sharing of your findings.)

On this slide you can see that there are six main steps in the analytical process and each is related to making a plan, implementing that plan or sharing your findings. We will explain the main activities that you will need to undertake within each step. If you've been watching statistics candidates, data literacy videos, you'll recognize that this work is part of the third step: the analyze phase of the data journey. This diagram is the backbone of our analytical process. We will come back to it in each of the videos in this series.

Step 1: What do we already know?

For this video and planning, your analysis will start by understanding the context and investigating what we already know about a topic. Start by ensuring you fully understand the broader topic and the context surrounding it, and think through the following questions. What do we already know about the topic? Has one of your colleagues already done a similar exercise? Start by reviewing any previous work done on the topic. Once you've read up on the topic, you can identify the knowledge gaps. What is missing in the previous work? This will help you realize how your projects add value.


To make sure you understand these steps, let's go through an example together. This is from a study on the economic well being of millennials. This study was motivated by a lack of information on financial outcomes for Canadian millennials.


When we began work for this study, we knew that Millennials were often stereotyped by the media's still living in their parents basement. Spending too much on takeout food, and so on. We also knew that a study by the United States Federal Reserve Board had shown that American Millennials had lower incomes and fewer assets than previous generations had at the same age. What were the knowledge gaps? Despite anecdotal media reports on millennials, we knew that there wasn't a detailed study assessing the economic well being of Canadian millennials.


Why is our analysis relevant? Well, housing affordability and high debt levels have been identified as concerns for younger generations earlier in their life. From this we knew the topic was relevant for policy makers. Journalists and Canadians will return to this example later.

Step 2: What do we already know?

Back to our analytical process. The next step is to define your analytical question.

What is your analytical question?

How do you define your analytical question? Very clearly state the question you are trying to answer and use plain language simply. This means using vocabulary that an eighth grader could understand. You might have one main analytical question followed by some supporting questions. Why is your question relevant? Why should we care about your work? Define the value that your analysis adds either to your organization, your client, or to our understanding of the topic.

Plan your analysis

Now that you have a relevant question, how will you answer it? This is the perfect time for you to put together an analytical plan which provides a road map for answering your analytical question. You will need to think about the context of your topic and how you will answer your question. What data and methodology are needed to answer your question? You will also need to think about how you will communicate your results, whether through a briefing note, analytical paper, infographic or presentation.

Identify your resources

Now that you have your analytical plan, think about your resources. Feedback is an essential element of your analytical journey and you should leverage input from colleagues at every step. Typically we will put together a short plan for colleagues and management to review. Maybe some of your colleagues have expertise on the topic you are working on. Colleagues might also have expertise in the data you are using or your methodology. Our colleagues are often in the best position to provide tips and feedback and to help us work through problems.

Millennials-Analytical question

For our example about the economic well being of Canadian Millennials. Our main analytical question was: Are Millennials better or worse off than previous generations of the same age in terms of income levels, debts, assets, and net worth? Given the level of interest on Millennials and debt levels, we wrote a short, analytical paper that answered this question.

Your analytical journey

Remember it this way analysis is like taking a canoe trip. You need a good plan. You should map out where you are going and how you will get there. That's your analytical plan. You will also need a strong analytical question, solid data, and good methodology. That's your canoe.

Remember: Define your analytical question

The key takeaway from this video is to remember to develop a clearly defined analytical question even with a great topic and high quality data you cannot produce good results without a well defined question.

Summary of key points

To summarize, the analytical process can be viewed as a series of steps designed to answer a well defined question. Once the topic has been defined, the next step is to create an analytical plan. And always incorporate the feedback you receive during the planning stage of your analytical project. Before the next video, take a few minutes to identify two analytical questions and think through why these questions are relevant for your organization. Stay tuned up next. We'll share tips on how to implement your analytical plan.

(The Canada Wordmark appears.)

What did you think?

Please give us feedback so we can better provide content that suits our users' needs.