Whether you are writing a publication for a company or you are researching for a school project or assignment, finding accurate data to back up your claim is vital. The internet has proven to be an excellent resource for unlimited data on any topic. However, not all the information found on these websites is accurate or trustworthy. Therefore, we have come up with the following step by step guidelines to get you stats help with ease.
Steps of looking for statistics online
The two most important limitations for any statistical information you wish to find are geographical information and the time frame of the data. You need to establish the exact timeframe and the geographic boundaries of whatever information you are looking for before you decide the sources you will use to compile your data. Having determined the timeline and exact geographical boundaries then embark on the following three strategies to find useful data on your topic.
1. Use finding aids
Finding aids are databases with authoritative research guides and reference sources set up by scholarly librarians of schools or other government and private institutions. There are research guides that can pinpoint you to the primary producers of different topical data such as agriculture, politics, health, religion, and many others. Other reference sources may rely on statistics drawn from decennial census information taken for a specific geographical location at a particular time frame.
2. Identify potential producers of the data
You can identify potential data sources through finding aid or by common knowledge of the topic in question. Once you establish who can publish the kind of information you need, then the first step is to visit the organization’s website or search the author specifically from a trusted catalog. The following are some significant producers of statistical data.
- Government agencies. Governments continuously collect data through their agencies to help them in policy and decision making. They are the largest producers of statistical data, and all information they have is readily available and free for all.
- Non-Governmental Organizations. NGOs collect data and publish information concerning their course to support their social platform. Good examples are the UN, WHO, and the IMF who have e-resources and catalogs of data they have collected on various topics from several locations in the world.
- Academic institutions conduct researches and collect data now and then to come up with solutions to problems in the world over. However, some statistical publications from educational institutions may require authentication to access.
3. Consider published literature
The third step is to turn to journals, reported news, and articles that were published on your desired topic for the timeframe you require. However, these may not be as reliable as the previously mentioned sources. Therefore, make sure to follow up on every citation they provide to determine the validity and authoritativeness of the information. Cross-check carefully the tables and any mathematical determination provided before using it. The most reliable way is to use subject-specific indexes that let you search for scholarly articles, publications, and journals.
4. Use internet search engines
The fourth step is to use typical search engines like Yahoo and Google naturally. Identify the keywords of your topic, and don’t forget to include the geographical boundary and time frame of your research. Carefully make use of synonyms and also add terms like ‘data’ or ‘statistics’ to limit the result to numerical data. Be careful to confirm the data you get from this form of research, as it is the most unreliable. You can try adding keywords that relate to the likely producer of the information. For example, you can add ‘gov’ if you think the government is more likely to have the statistical data you need.