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Statistics Guide: Finding Statistics

 

  Finding Statistics

Consider the questions listed below, then try out the strategies offered in the subpages of this tab. Remember, you can always ask a librarian for help.

What do I need to know about my topic before I start looking for statistics?

Define the 'When' and the 'What' before looking for statistics:

When:  Are you looking for information about a single point in time?  Do you want to look at changes over time?  Do you need historical information?  Current information?

Be prepared that the most current statistics may actually be a year or more old. There can be multiple year lags before some information is released, depending on how often the information is collected, the time it takes to process and crunch numbers, and the public release schedule.

What: Are you looking at people, places, or things? A population demographic (nationality, ethnicity, age, occupation, etc.)? Geographical area (nations, states, counties, cities)? Units of currency?

Remember to define your topic with enough flexibility to adapt to available information


Evaluate

Don't take statistics at face value. Consider the source and method used to create the statistic. Be a critical information consumer! 

Check out the Joel Best's publications on evaluating statistics, available as ebooks through HPU Libraries: