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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.

Statistics

Statistical data will lend credibility to your research by providing facts and figures supporting your position. Therefore, statistics may be important to include in your class assignments, research papers, and theses. However, statistical data is not always easy to find since there is no single source for this type of information. Statistics may come from scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, websites, books, statistical databases, and more.

This guide outlines several techniques and resources for finding and evaluating statistical data.

Evaluating Statistics

Inclusion of erroneous statistical data can harm the credibility of your research. Therefore, it is very important to evaluate the source of your statistical information. The following questions will help you to evaluate the reliability of statistical information.

  • Who is the author of the source that presents the statistics? What are the author's credentials? Is the author an authority on the subject? Could the author be presenting bias?
  • What is the date of the statistics? How current are they? Are they relevant to the time period that you are interested in?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What type of publication is the data published in? And is the data clearly represented?
  • Can the data be cross-checked in other reliable sources?
  • Can the statistics be verified? Do the methods used and data presented seem valid?

Resources

The Statista database provides current statistics from private and government sources on a wide range of topics including technology, health, public opinion, and market research. You can access Statista by hovering over Research Resources on the Library homepage and clicking on A-Z Databases.

On the Statista home page, you may enter a keyword relating to your research topic to retrieve results for Statistics and Studies & Reports, as shown below.


You may download Statista charts in the form of a .png image, or as Excel, PowerPoint, or Adobe Acrobat files. These charts are permitted for use in your papers and presentations, as long as you properly cite the original source of the data in your research, not the Statista database. In the example below, you would cite the World Health Organization (WHO).


Often you may obtain statistics from journal, magazine or newspaper articles on your research topic. The Library’s Roadrunner Search is a good starting point since it searches approximately 95% of the Library’s databases in a single, simultaneous search. To access, go to the Library’s homepage and look for the box in the middle of the page titled Roadrunner Search. Click on the Advanced Search link to bring up more search options.

You may include the keywords (ratio OR statistics OR proportion OR percentage) as part of your search string, as shown below. Additional keywords to consider are prevalence, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables.



Conducting a search in Google or another internet search engine is also a good starting point for finding statistics related to your research topic. Reliable sources of statistics may include government and technical reports, scholarly journal articles, conference papers, white papers, and professional organizations.

When retrieving statistics from the internet, it is even more pertinent to evaluate the source as reliable and appropriate for use in scholarly research. Refer to the Evaluating Statistics section above for specific questions you should ask regarding the statistical source. The Website Evaluation page provides additional factors to consider before including online sources in your research.

Similar to a database search, in Google you may include the keyword statistics as part of your search string, as shown below. Additional keywords to consider are ratio, proportion, percentage, prevalence, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables.


Government, agency and organizational websites are a great source of reliable statistical information.

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