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Statistics

This guide comply sources containing statistical data that is frequently required for your research. The sources covered include SIT Library's subscribed resources and also publicly available sources.

Searching Statistics and Data

1

Define your Topic

Ask yourself what exactly are you needing to find?

  • Time: Are you looking for information about a single point in time? Do you want to look at changes over time? Do you need historical information? Current information?
    Be prepared that the most current statistics may actually be a year or more old! There can be multiple year lags before some information is released depending on how often the information is collected, the time it takes to process and crunch numbers, and the public release schedule.
  • Geography: Geographical areas can be defined by political boundaries (nations, states, counties, cities) or statistical boundaries (mainly Census geography such as metropolitian statistical areas, block groups, or tracts).
  • Social Unit: This is the population that you want to study. For people, should you be looking at individuals, couples, households? For organizations and institutions, should you be looking at companies, political parties, nation states? For commodities and things, are you looking at crops, automobiles, arrests?
2

Ask yourself: Who might collect or publish this type of information?

Visit the organization’s website and see if they put the statistics online. For example,


These are some of the main types of producers of statistical information:

 

Government Agencies
The government collects data to aid in policy decisions and is the largest producer of statistics overall. For example, the Department of Statistics of Singapore, Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Social and Family Development and many other agencies collect and publish data. Most government statistics are free and publicly available.

International Associations or Non-government Organization
Many independent non-commercial and nonprofit organization collect and publish statistics that support their social platform. For example, the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, World Health Organization, and many others collect and publish statistics.

Academic Institutions
Academic research projects funded by public and private foundations create a wealth of data. For example, the National Science Foundation and many other research projects publish statistics based on their data collection projects. Some statistical publications are available freely online, but others may require access through subscription.

Private Sector
Commercial firms collect and publish data and statistics as a paid service to clients or to sell broadly. Examples include marketing firms, pollsters, trade organizations, and business information. This information is almost always is fee-based and may not always be available for public release. The library does subscribe to some commercial data services, particularly through the business library.

3

Turn to the published literature

Look for statistics reported in journal, news, and magazine articles. If they report a source, be sure to follow it up!

By searching the Library's OneSearchyou can determine if anyone has conducted research into your area of inquiry.  You may find a journal article with statistical tables on your topic, or you may find out that you have chosen such a unique topic that little to no research exists in that area.  Maybe you can be flexible with your topic and find a similiar substitute.

4

Google Search Strategies

Think about where to search and which keywords to use.

When searching the Internet, be sure to identify your topic keywords carefully and try using synonyms.

  • Add in terms like "data" or "statistics".
  • Use advanced search features such as the “site:” command which allows you to limit your search to a certain website or domain. For example, if you think that the government is a likely producer of the statistics you need end your search with the command “site:.gov” to only search within government websites.
5

Use Library's OneSearch to find books with statistical tables

Statistical publications will always include the keyword "statistics" in the subject information about the book. For example:

Education -- Statistics.

Health insurance -- Singapore -- Statistics.

Singapore -- Statistics.

Knowing this, you can use a technique for limiting your search to statistical publications by going to the Advanced Search of Library's OneSearch and search under SU SUBJECT TERM for your topic.

6

Ask for help

Knowing when to ask for help is important.

Keep in mind that one possible reason nothing is turning up is that the statistic you need was never collected! Be flexible and consider alternative measures.

Evaluate

7

Don't take statistics at face value. Consider the source and method used to create the statistic. Be a critical information consumer!

Cite

8

Statistics should be cited just like any other source you consult.

Check out this guide on citing statistical tables if you're not sure how.