Categorical data analysis in experimental biology

Dev Biol. 2010 Dec 1;348(1):3-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2010.08.018. Epub 2010 Sep 6.


The categorical data set is an important data class in experimental biology and contains data separable into several mutually exclusive categories. Unlike measurement of a continuous variable, categorical data cannot be analyzed with methods such as the Student's t-test. Thus, these data require a different method of analysis to aid in interpretation. In this article, we will review issues related to categorical data, such as how to plot them in a graph, how to integrate results from different experiments, how to calculate the error bar/region, and how to perform significance tests. In addition, we illustrate analysis of categorical data using experimental results from developmental biology and virology studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Data Display
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Developmental Biology / statistics & numerical data
  • Virology / statistics & numerical data