Finding statistics

If you’re interested in using large data sets (i.e. census data) or historical/archival data in your research, there are many options for accessing statistics and data sets without having to collect them yourself. You can find statistics in newspapers, articles, books, on websites and in library databases.

See the following tips for help finding data sets.

Search the Web

There are statistical sources freely available on the web. Use either the word statistics or data with your topic keywords to find helpful results. When searching on the Web, always take the time to evaluate the source. Is it reliable, trustworthy, and/or an unbiased source?

  • Watch out for sponsored results that look like regular search results.
  • Be wary of sites that don't list sources for statistics that are cited.
  • Review the quick-how-to pages about evaluating the quality of sources.

When you see results from different governing bodies and organizations, think about each group’s stake in researching the topic. For example, for statistics on carbon emissions, would an oil company like BP show different items in their statistics than would the Environmental Protection Agency? Could the research be biased?