Read All About It
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Read All About It Suresh is comparing magazines and newspapers. He chooses a passage from one newspaper and one magazine. They each contain 100 words and he counts the lengths of all the words. Suresh then says that the magazine has the shortest words. Write a hypothesis about the length of words in newspapers and magazines. Design and carry out an investigation to test your hypothesis. Investigate further. Introduction Suresh's hypothesis seemed to me at first to sound quite correct, that words in magazines would be shorter than those in newspapers. But then I realised that this was taking for granted that the newspaper would in a way be more 'serious' than a magazine, as my first thoughts on a magazine were those that wrote about celebrities and contained a lot of photographs. However, I do not think that this generalisation would hold with all magazines and newspapers, for instance, if I was to compare a magazine such as "Sight and Sound" which is a magazine about films, but one that examines films in quite an in-depth way, having interviews and articles on 'art-house' films for instance - with a newspaper like "The Daily Sport", aimed at men who prefer titillation to topical news stories, then I believed that Suresh's hypothesis may be proved wrong. As there is an enormous variety of magazines in the shops I tried to figure out a way of narrowing down the options for a comparison of word lengths. I decided upon newspapers. General newspapers, those that are most common and read daily by a large percentage of the population, are already split into two different types, so I had my two groups from which to sample from already before me - the broadsheet and the tabloid. The broadsheet being newspapers such as The Times, The Independent, The Guardian and The Telegraph, and the tabloid group containing The Sun, The Mirror, The Star and The Daily Sport.
Mean Broadsheet To find the mean I calculated the total number of letters in the 100 word article and divided by the total number of words which gave me the average length of word. (Total Fx divided by Total Frequency) 561 / 100 = 5.61 (5.6 correct to 1 d.p.). Tabloid And I repeated the method with the tabloid: 477 / 100 = 4.77 (4.8 correct to 1 d.p.). Length of Word Frequency Fx 1 2 2 2 14 28 3 25 75 4 12 48 5 1 5 6 5 30 7 9 63 8 11 88 9 4 36 10 6 60 11 8 88 12 2 24 13 0 0 14 1 14 Total 100 561 Length of Word Frequency Fx 1 4 4 2 13 26 3 18 54 4 17 68 5 11 55 6 13 78 7 11 77 8 7 56 9 3 27 10 2 20 11 0 0 12 1 12 13 0 0 14 0 0 Total 100 477 Median Broadsheet The median is the middle number of the results. As we were testing with 100 words, the median would be the 50th word. Having already listed the results in ascending order, I simply had to count to the 50th. The 50th word was in the row for lengths of word - 4. According to the median then, the average length of word in the broadsheet is 4. Tabloid I repeated the method. The 50th word was again in the row for lengths of word - 4. Mode Broadsheet The mode is the most common value. So from my table it was easy to see which length of word was the most common. It was 3. So 3 was the average according to the mode formula. Tabloid 3 was the average for the tabloid too. Here we see then that the 3 ways of calculating average have given us 3 different results.
I think this has been a feature of this investigation, the very limited scope I may have given myself. What is appearing though must be a different usage of language between the two papers. Finally I shall again look at the cumulative frequency graph as this gave me the most detailed information and appeared the most correct as the results that came from it, the interquartiles and the median gave similar information to that which I had gathered so far, that the broadsheet had on average a longer word length than the tabloid: Key: Series 1 = Broadsheet Series 2 = Tabloid The Interquartile Range: Tabloid: 3.9 to 7.3 Broadsheet: 3.9 to 7.1 The range difference was a mere 0.2 (length of word) and this was in the tabloids favour - this was contrary to what had been deduced earlier. Median of the Tabloid: 5.3 Median of the Broadsheet: 5 The difference in median was 0.2, again in the tabloids favour, and again this was contrary to what I had found earlier, with the 100 word sample. My theory had become undone, rather than produce what I thought would be a firmer foundation on which to state that my hypothesis was wrong, I had actually strengthened it by the examination of two different samples. I realised that I should continue examining other samples, for only by a larger amount of samples could I hope to find a trend, that one paper used longer words than the other. Or had I hit upon the answer, that my hypothesis was correct. One thing I was quite sure of was that any difference was very negligible. Both tests had shown that the broadsheet used more words containing 12, 13 and 14 letters, this was evident from the first action, collecting the data, but the 'average' word length, however you wished to define this, was interchangeable. ?? ?? ?? ?? 4 1
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