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This guide provides links to the most useful databases and resources for finding statistics and data

StatisticsColorful image of some graphs and numbers on a screen

This guide provides links to the most useful databases and resources for finding statistics and data on a wide range of topics.


Why Use Statistics?

What can statistics do? 
  • Strengthen your argument
  • Provide objective information so you can debate arguments
  • Put an argument into context
Things You Need to Consider:
  • Statistics in and of themselves can't make the argument for you
  • Like direct quotations from outside sources, you must interpret statistics and apply them to the point you're making
  • Treat statistics as evidence that requires interpretation

Source attribution: Photo by Justin Morgan on Unsplash

Finding Statistics

Helpful Hints:
  1. Sometimes statistics are buried within the text of a journal, magazine, or newspaper. 
    • As you research, take the time to skim through your findings to discover potential sources of statistics. 
    • Follow leads in the articles to locate other statistics. 
  2. Look in books and articles at graphs, charts, and diagrams to find statistical information. 
  3. Sometimes statistics are hidden within other articles but can't simply be found by searching "statistics." 
    • When searching library databases, combine your topic search with a subject search for statistics.
Search Words:

Add these keywords to your topic searches to focus on statistics for your topic:

  • Statistics
  • Data
  • Numbers
  • Trends
  • Polling
  • Figures
  • Tables
Search Examples:
  • Immigration AND Statistics
  • Global Warming AND Trends

Why Evaluate?

We've all heard how it's possible to "lie" with statistics.

Because of that, it's important to evaluate statistics so that you aren't manipulated into believing claims backed up numbers, facts, and figures. 

How to Evaluate Statistics

Ask yourself these questions when attempting to evaluate statistical data: 

  • Authority | Who is the author? What are the author's qualifications/authority? 

  • Date | What is the date range of the data, and is it supposed to be historical or current? 

  • Purpose | What type of publication are the data published in, and who is the intended audience? Is the data clearly represented?

  • Content | Are the statistics accurate? Can they be verified? Does there appear to be bias? 

  • Coverage | Is the coverage complete? What is the population, or sample size, of the study? For example, the sample size of the dicennial U.S. Census is theoretically the total number of people in the United States. However, sample sizes of most other studies, surveys, and polls will be much smaller. 

  • Presentation | Has the data been repackaged? For example, government data published by a private source might not be as complete as the original study. 

  • Data Source | Is the data from a primary? If the data are from a secondary source (such as the Statistical Abstract), has it been properly documented so you can find the primary source? 

A special thanks to librarian Iris Carroll for the use of the above content. Source citation: "Statistics" by Iris Carroll from the Library and Learning Center at Modesto Junior College is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 

Note: This guide was reviewed in May 2024. See errors? Have feedback or suggestions? Use the "Get Help" tab to contact us to let us know!

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Except where otherwise noted, the content in these guides by Tacoma Community College Library is licensed under CC BY SA 4.0.
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