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Statistical Sources: Sites for Data

Looking at popular versus scholarly sources.


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Links for Statistics, Datasets, and More

Our Databases

Government Statistics

Using Google

The US government collects many statistics from many areas.  These can be found in census data or special studies conducted with special funds.  They can be part of the regular assessments of the Food and Drug Administration or the Department of Homeland Security.  The easiest way to see which government entities collect the statistics you want is to do a Google site search.

ex. Site:gov childcare statistics

This would pull up .gov sites that have numbers you might want to look into that relate to childcare.  Not sure of what term to use?  Pick a term and think of synonyms.  One word will pull up exactly what you need. image

Alternately, you can utilize the federal government's own search engine, to search all of the statistics that federal agencies collect.  Please keep in mind that when the government funds various studies, some data may only be reported when a study is finished, so it may seem that current data provided is behind by 1-5 years.  That probably means a study is currently being conducted and the results will be released when the study is concluded.  

Finding Datasets and Statistics

1. Think about who might collect the data.

  • Could it have been collected by a government agency?
  • A nonprofit/nongovernmental organization?
  • A private business or industry group?
  • Academic researchers?

2. Look for publications that cite the dataset

  • e.g. scholarly articles or government reports.

3. Once you know that what you want exists, it's time to hunt it down.

  • Is it freely available on the web? Check Google—you never know!
  • Is it in a database that the library subscribes to?
  • Can it be requested directly from the researcher? There’s a reason articles usually include author contact information


A searchable and browsable list of repositories can be found at these websites:

  • a REgistry of REsearch data REpositories
  • Data Repositories in the Open Access Directory: a list of repositories hosted by Simmons College
  • FAIRSharing: a directory of life sciences databases and reporting standards, now expanded to include all disciplines

Data Sets

Types of Data

What is Data?

Data vs. Statistics

Data are raw ingredients from which statistics are created. Statistics are useful when you just need a few numbers to support an argument (ex. In 2003, 98.2% of American households had a television set--from Statistical Abstract of the United States). Statistics are usually presented in tables. Statistical analysis can be performed on data to show relationships among the variables collected. Through secondary data analysis, many different researchers can re-use the same data set for different purposes.

Types of Data

Cross-Sectional describes data that are only collected once.

Time Series study the same variable over time. The National Health Interview Survey is an example of time series data because the questions generally remain the same over time, but the individual respondents vary.

Longitudinal Studies describe surveys that are conducted repeatedly, in which the same group of respondents are surveyed each time. This allows for examining changes over the life course. The Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) Series contains a longitudinal component that tracks changes in the lives of individuals over time through interviews.

(Adapted from Tim Davis' Libguide at UC San Diego -

Frequently Used Datasets

Digital Services Librarian

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Johnnie Gray
Trible Library, Media Center, 2317D

Other Sources

Harvard Dataverse

American FactFinder

  • Statistics collected by the Census Department:
  • American Community Survey
  • American Housing Survey
  • Annual Surveys of Governments
  • Census of Governments
  • Annual Economic Surveys
  • Decennial Census
  • Economic Census
  • Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Tabulation
  • Population Estimates Program
  • Puerto Rico Community Survey‚Äč

Political polls from many sources collected in one place.

Cornell University Polls
Gallup Polls
Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.

Comprehensive database which includes most major statistical resources of international statistics from the United Nations.

World DataBank
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