In many cases, data analysts are given the question to answer or the data set to be analyzed. It’s important, however, to understand that there are numerous steps, before and after the empirical analysis is done, that define an overall rigorous scientific process. This note outlines the basic steps that are important in asking an empirical research question, answering it, and presenting findings.
The process described in the note generalizes to any empirical research domain. Given the rising prominence of data analytics in sports, we illustrate the process here using a question that is often discussed by basketball observers: Does calling a timeout in basketball end a run being made by the opposing team?
At Darden, this note is used in the MBA and Executive MBA class “Data Analytics and Leadership Judgment in Sports”; it would also be suitable in many data analytics courses or a module in any course introducing the basics of an empirical research process.