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Find Statistical Data

Statistics are used in writing about many topics and assignments often require analyzing supporting statistics or raw data. As with any source that you use in your assignments, reliability and credibility are extremely important. You should always verify that the source of any statistics you use is valid and reliable. The resources listed on these pages have been identified by our librarians as generally reliable sources for statistical data, but it is not an exhaustive list. You may find additional reliable sources on your own.

Most federal (U.S.) statistics are collected from state and local agencies as governed by the Code of Federal Regulations and U.S. Statutes. Crime-related and health statistics are examples of this. Use the federal websites if you want to find information on more than one state or locale. If you would like to include a specific city/town or county in your search that is not reported in the various statistics kept at the federal level, then search for the equivalent state or local agency.

Please note: Data is available in different formats depending on the data source. In some cases, you will have a choice between formats. If you have questions regarding the best format, please consult your instructor. In other cases, only raw data is available, which will require you to download and run your own analysis of that data.

Recommended Databases

Tips on Finding Statistics

Finding statistical data can be a bit of a daunting task. Use the tips below to help you with your research.

  1. Understand the terminology used. The terminology used when researching for education statistics is different than that used for medical statistics. Be sure you know the correct terminology for what you are looking for.
  2. Search using topical keywords and be ready to drill down into data tables. Start your search for statistical data with keywords. For example, if you are searching for literacy rates among females in a specific region of the world, you might search using the terms "literacy and female" and then filter the results by country.
  3. If a search doesn't locate the data you are looking for, try using browse functions. Many sources for statistics, especially governmental and non-governmental agencies, include a browse feature for statistics. Sometimes this function can be very useful in drilling down to the resource you need.
  4. If you are searching in a library database, add the term "statistics" to your search. For example, if you are searching in a library database for articles that include statistics on tobacco use among teens in the United States, you could search for "tobacco AND teenagers AND statistics".
Additional things to keep in mind:​
  • Not all statistical data is available for every time period.
    • Data for a particular topic may not have been collected until a specific time period. For example statistics on AIDS are not available until after the early 1980s when it was discovered.
    • If you are having trouble finding current data, it may be that the data has been gathered, but has not yet been published.
  • Data may not be available in a format that you want.
    • Your won't always find that perfect table or chart to paste into your paper.
    • You many need to download data sets and build your own understanding of the data.
  • Always check the unit of measure
    • Data is often reported in thousands (000) or millions (000,000)
    • To compare data using different units, check with your instructor.
  • For data reported in currency units, always verify the currency and the base year.
    • Comparing countries requires data with the same currency and base year
    • For the formulas to convert currencies or base years, consult with your instructor.

Popular Books

Using Government Statistics

Publications from Governments, International Organizations, and NGOs [transcript] is available above the video.