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Finding Statistics and Data

About Finding Statistics and Data

When locating statistics you may need to consult several sources in order to find what you're looking for. Most government agencies collect statistical data and make that information available online. This research guide aims to organize and direct you to a selection of these resources. Some keywords to use for searching in library databases include, statistics OR data OR poll OR survey OR percentages, and can be combined with a topic keyword, like bullying. Resources like articles will cite primary resources like data/datasets and provide a citation if you'd like to follow up on the cited source.

When looking for Statistics and Data in any discipline or topic, always consider if it could be collected by a government agency, nonprofit/ nongovernmental organization, private business/ industry group, or academic researchers.

Looking for data

The data sources included in this guide are mostly suitable for secondary data analysis (analysis of existing data that was collected by others). When looking for data, you might also want to consider:

  1. Are you looking for a dataset that you can use to conduct further statistical analysis with software?
  2. Are you looking for existing statistical analysis or reports?

For datasets, you can visit public data sources (also referred to as open data) and subscription-based data sources. Not all of the data is accessible as public data or through library resources. Sometimes, you may need to request permission to access the data or find funding to pay for access. Other times the data may be proprietary and not accessible.

Many data sources include embedded tools that allow for filtering or visualization of the data. Some tools may aggregate different sources of data for further analysis. Take advantage of these tools by learning how to use them and leverage them for your research.

What is the difference between Data and Statistics?

Data is the raw information from which statistics are created. Put in the reverse, statistics provide an interpretation and summary of data.


  • Statistical tables, charts, and graphs
  • Reported numbers and percentages in an article

If you're looking for a quick number, you want a statistic. A statistic will answer "how much" or "how many." A statistic repeats a pre-defined observation about reality.

Statistics are the results of data analysis. They usually come in the form of a table or chart. This is an example of a statistical table:









Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States (-2012) ; for 2013, access via ProQuest.


  • Datasets
  • Machine-readable data files
  • Data files for statistical software programs
  • Codebooks, test instruments, replicable data

If you want to dig into a phenomenon, you want the data. Data can be analyzed and interpreted using statistical procedures to answer "why" or "how." Data is used to create new information and knowledge.

Raw data is the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a research study or survey. It is a primary source. It usually comes in the form a digital dataset that can be analyzed using software such as SPSS, R, SAS, etc. This is an example of a dataset:

dataset graphic with columns and rows