My data rule checklist:
1. Graph the data - If you cannot see it, you cannot understand it. Pictures are critical.
2. Cut the data - Look over different time periods to see if there are changes. Data move.
3. Get the stats - Understand the distribution of the data only after seeing it first.
4. Look at the histogram - Find for outliers because this is were money is won or lost.
5. Match data with events - Go both ways - match outliers with events and big events with data.
6. Generate conditional tables - The power of a 2x2 contingency table is often missed.
7. Check the volatility and correlation - See whether volatility and correlations change.
8. Compare against good times and bad - Show business cycle and big events on graph.
9. Map theory and prior evidence - Use priors of other researchers to focus representation of data.
10. Run your regression tests - Be skeptical and focus on residuals.
Good data analysis is a skill that can be learned through following a process.