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Statistical sources

Introduction

Statistical sources will help you

  • find primary data
  • find numerical facts about your topic
  • identify trends over time
  • make comparisons

Statistical sources are works that

  • collect, classify, and organize numerical facts or data
  • provide compilations of numerical data
  • often present data in charts, graphs, tables, etc.
  • are generally organized by subject, type, issuing agency, or year
  • cover varying periods of time
  • are compiled by government agencies, research organizations, and private companies
  • are compiled by government agencies, research organizations, and private companies

Types of statistical sources

One well-known example of a statistical source is the Statistical Abstract of the United States. This source has been published for more than 100 years and provides users with all kinds of socioeconomic data about the United States. The trick to using it is to remember that the index gives you table numbers not page numbers.

There are lots of other sources - in fact one directory of statistical sources says there are 42,000 of them! A few of these are:

  • American Statistics Index
  • Statistical Reference Index
  • City and County Data Book
  • Census of Population, 1990
  • Historical Statistics of the United States
  • Agricultural Statistics
  • The World in Figures

Statistical sources online

A great deal of statistical information is now in electronic form. These on-line resources are very convenient, but they generally focus on current statistics only and don't always contain all of the available data. Therefore, you should always check the corresponding print sources of statistical information to get the full range of statistical data for your topic-especially if your topic covers more than the last five years.

Some examples of online statistical sources are

To find statistical sources of information

  • do a keyword search on your topic and "statistics".
  • do a SUBJECT search in the library's online catalog for your topic or the broader subject of which it is a part. Then look for the subdivision "statistics"
  • look on your library's website for links to a section on statistical information
  • ASK A LIBRARIAN for the best statistical sources to use for your topic

If you are using a statistical source for the first time:

  • scan the introduction and how to use this work pages
  • scan the help screens
  • ASK A LIBRARIAN to show you how it works