Search Strategy #2: Identify Potential Producers
Who cares about your topic?
Meaning, what agency or organization would be interested in gathering data related to your topic? For example, if you're researching 'depression in college students', many organizations report on this area: university counseling centers; research hospitals (think Mayo Clinic); federal agencies, such as SAMHSA and NIMH; professional organizations like the APA and ADAA. Thinking contextually in this way can lead you to sources of reliable statistics and reports on your topic.
* Major Producers:
The government collects data to aid in policy decisions and is the largest producer of statistics overall. For example, the U.S. Census Bureau, Federal Election Commission, Federal Highway Administration and many other agencies collect and publish data. Government statistics are free and publicly available, but access may be facilitated through library resources.
Many independent non-commercial and nonprofit organizations collect and publish statistics that support their social platform. For example, the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, World Health Organization, and many others collect and publish statistics.
Academic research projects funded by public and private foundations create a wealth of data. For example, the High Point University Survey Research Center and many other research projects publish statistics based on their data collection projects. Some statistical publications are available freely online, but others may require access through library resources.
Commercial firms collect and publish data and statistics as a paid service to clients or to sell broadly. Examples include marketing firms, pollsters, trade organizations, and business information. This information is almost always fee-based and may not always be available for public release. The library does subscribe to some commercial statistics collections, such as Statista.
Locating Potential Producers Online
If you are looking for the agencies or organizations relevant to your topic, try this Google search tip: Isolate the main keyword or phrase for your topic, and pair it with '.gov', as this will (ideally) prioritize government websites in your results. The same can be done for .org, though keep in mind that any website can purchase a .org domain, while .gov is a protected domain for government agencies.
Example search string: Learning Disabilities, .gov
To narrow by location: Learning Disabilities, North Carolina, .gov
* The information on statistics producers is largely credited to the MSU Libraries How to Find Data & Statistics guide. Thank you!