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Data Literacy - Statistics: Find

This guide has information on how to find, evaluate, use, and cite statistics. It also has some links to get you started.

How to Begin

  1. Think Strategically:
    • Identify what you need - think about the disciplines it might be in, the time frame you need (current or historical or both), and the location (US, international, local, etc.)
      • Statistics take time - some come out once every 10 years (census data), some may be more than a year old
      • Be flexible - published stats with the exact variables you are need may not exist (you can try contacting the agency or look for datasets)
    • Identify who might collect or publish the data/statistics - and search their sites
      • Government Agencies: free and publicly available
      • Non-Government Organizations: independent, noncommercial, and nonprofit organizations collect and publish statistics
      • Academic Institutions: funded by public or private foundations might be available freely online
      • Private Sector Commercial Firms: collect and publish statistics as a paid service
    • Identify keywords -
      • Get creative: think inside and outside of your discipline, come up with synonyms/alternate spellings
      • Be flexible: be willing to change your keywords and search multiple times
  2. Search library resources (more info in the next box)
  3. Search engines (more info in the next box)
  4. Ask a Librarian!

Search Strategies

  • Search the databases for articles, news, or reports that may contain charts, graphs, tables, and/or statistics
  • Check the library catalog for books or print journals that may contain charts, graphs, tables and/or statistics
  • Track down any reported sources - get to the primary source if possible
  • You may find a gap in the research - be flexible
  • Get creative in your searches
    • Try using your keywords AND statistics
      Example: education AND United States AND statistics
    • Keep your keywords general at first
    • Brainstorm alternative words for statistics: data, qualitative, quantitative, chart, table, graph, etc
  • Add statistics or data to your search terms
  • Remember to think about who might collect or publish the statistics you want
  • Target specific websites or domains
    • keywords site:Domain
      Example: education statistics
      Will find government websites that have or mention education statistics
    • keywords site:main website URL (drop the http and www)
      Example: crime statistics
      Will find pages on the Texas Department of Public Safety that have or mention crime statistics
    • Statistics might also be found in reports, publications, quick facts, etc. or might be called charts, tables, graphs, etc. - be flexible with your keywords and where you look
  • Use any advanced features in the search engine to help find statistics

About This Guide

This guide is meant to help you find statistics and increase your data literacy.  It is not a comprehensive list of all statistics available online.

For more statistics - check the UIW Libraries' LibGuides - check under the specific discipline.

Thanks to Marymount University Library and Learning Services for permission to adapt their LibGuide as the basis for this one.
"Statistics and Datasets" by Marymount University Library and Learning Services

Staff LADR