In practically every research project, a first "look" at the data usually includes frequency tables. For example, in survey research, frequency tables can show the number of males and females who participated in the survey, the number of respondents from particular ethnic and racial backgrounds, and so on. Responses on some labeled attitude measurement scales (e.g., interest in watching football) can also be nicely summarized via the frequency table. In medical research, one may tabulate the number of patients displaying specific symptoms; in industrial research one may tabulate the frequency of different causes leading to catastrophic failure of products during stress tests (e.g., which parts are actually responsible for the complete malfunction of television sets under extreme temperatures?). Customarily, if a data set includes any categorical data, then one of the first steps in the data analysis is to compute a frequency table for those categorical variables.

See also, Exploratory data analysis and data mining techniques.