Factor Analysis: Is It Good For Academic Research?

Factor analysis is a statistical tool that can be used to determine whether or not a variable is a factor (i.e., if it has an effect on other variables) and what type of relationship it has with those variables.

It’s important to note that the results of factor analysis are only as accurate as the quality of your data, so it’s important to ensure your data is collected using rigorous scientific methods. In this article, we will discuss the use of factor analysis in academic research.

Goals of Factor Analysis 

The goals of factor analysis are to:

  • Describe the structure of a set of variables. This is achieved by identifying the underlying factors that account for the correlations among the variables. The goal is to explain as much variance in the data as possible with an appropriate number of factors and their loadings (factor loadings).
  • Identify important relationships between variables that are not accounted for by other variables in the analysis. This can be accomplished by performing a series of analyses, each one adding more variables to the model until all significant relationships between variables have been accounted for.
  • Determine whether any observed relationships between variables can be explained more parsimoniously by postulating one or more underlying factors than by assuming they reflect only chance associations. For example, if we find that men tend to score higher on measures of aggression than women, we might want to know if this difference can be explained by one or more underlying psychological factors that are shared by both men and aggressive people but not by nonaggressive people.

Presumption for Factor Analysis

There are various assumptions in factor analysis. These consist of:

  • The data does not contain any outliers.
  • It is supposed that the specimen size will exceed the factor.
  • There shouldn’t be perfect multi-collinearity between the variables because it is an interdependency approach.
  • Since factor analysis is a linear function, homogeneity of variance between variables is not necessary.
  • It is premised on the linearity premise; therefore, non-linear variables are also an option. They do, however, transform into a linear variable when transferred.
  • Additionally, it considers interval data.

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Utilizing Factor Analysis

It can be difficult to decide whether to utilize specific statistical techniques to gain the most knowledge from your data. Think about factor analysis with your goal in mind. Here we go with the two types of factor analysis. You may choose either method of factor analysis fitting your objective:

Exploratory Factor Analysis

The assumption made by exploratory factor analysis is that every variable or indicator can be linked to any factor. It is also the approach that researchers choose most frequently. It is also not predicated on any previous hypothesis.

Confirmatory Factor Analysis

Confirmatory factor analysis is employed to ascertain the factors’ loading and factors of measured variables as well as to check what is expected in light of previously made assumptions. Furthermore, it employs two strategies:

  • The Conventional Approach
  • The SEM Method

The degree to which your survey genuinely measures what it is designed to assess should be tested using construct validity.

Factoring Types Include:

Various techniques are used to separate the factor from the data set:

Principal Component Analysis

It is the approach that academics use the most. The largest variance is first extracted via principal component analysis and added to the first factor. The variance described by the first two factors is then removed, and the highest variance for the second component is then extracted. The final factor is reached through this approach.

Common Factor Analysis Technique

It is the second most popular among researchers, extracts common variance, and organizes it into factors. This approach does not account for each variable’s particular volatility.

Image Factoring

It utilizes a correlation matrix as its foundation. To forecast the factor in image factoring, OLS (ordinary least square) Regression is used.

Maximum Likelihood Method

It considers maximum likelihood while also employing the correlation metric. Among other factor analysis techniques, Alfa factoring is preferred over least squares. Another regression-based factoring technique is weight square.

Factor Loading

It is the association coefficient between the factors and the variables. Additionally, it describes the variable with a certain factor as indicated by variance.

Eigenvalues—Characteristics Roots

It is its alternate term. Additionally, it explains the variance of the total variance that is indicated by a particular factor. Also, the commonality column aids in determining how much of the total variance the first factor explains.

Factor Scores

It is another term for a component score. Additionally, we can utilize the score of all rows and columns as an index for all variables and additional analysis. Furthermore, by multiplying it by a common phrase, we may normalize it.

The Rotation Approach:

The output is easier to grasp with this method. Additionally, it influences the eigenvalues method but not the other way around.

Benefits of Factor Analysis

The following are some benefits of factor analysis:

  1. It allows researchers to reduce the number of variables being analyzed in order to focus on just a few key aspects of their data. This can help reduce the complexity of their research and make it easier for them to interpret their findings.
  2. It helps identify patterns in data that might otherwise be overlooked by researchers who are not familiar with statistical techniques. These patterns can then be used as the basis for new hypotheses or theories about the phenomenon being studied.
  3. It can be used to test a model or theory against empirical evidence, which is an important part of scientific research because it allows scientists to evaluate whether theories match up with reality or if they should be modified based on what has been observed.

Why Factor Analysis is Useful

There are several reasons why factor analysis may be useful for academic research:

  1. To determine if there are underlying factors that explain relationships between variables. For example, you might find that your survey responses can be explained by two different factors: age and gender, or education level and income level.
  2. To identify the most crucial variables in a dataset. The most important variables will have large loadings on the factor. For example, if education level has high loadings on both factors, it’s an important variable for understanding those relationships. If age has low loadings on both factors, it’s not an important variable for understanding those relationships. 


In conclusion, factor analysis has a lot of great uses. It’s a useful tool for academics and researchers because it helps them to understand their data and uncover trends in their findings. It can also be used to predict future events based on past trends. However, we should be careful not to use factor analysis as the only method of data analysis or interpretation. We should always look at our results with a critical eye, and make sure that all of our conclusions are backed up by sound logic and solid evidence.

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