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Finding Statistical Information: Reliable Sites

Statistics

  • Sometimes the most recent available data is a few years old.
  • National and state data are more prevalent than city/town data.
  • Sometimes you'll find published data sets, which contain raw, unanalyzed data. Use the Tips for Searching Google on this page for help finding analyzed, ready-to-use statistics.
  • Data can be taken out of context, cherry-picked, or manipulated to support a particular point of view.  If you're not sure you can trust a source, try to verify the information in a second source.

Google Data Searching Tips

You'll find some "best bets" for finding demographic and health statistics below, so save time by searching these first. But if you can't still find the information you're looking for, see what you can find by searching Google. These tips will help you do a more effective Google search:

  • Try starting at the Google Data Set Search Page Instead of the regular Google page.
  • Use the advanced search to find  sites that end in .gov or .edu. City and town websites have lots of local demographic and health information. Sometimes they will also end in two-letter domains such as .us or .mo.
  • Try "filetype:.csv" for excel files or "filetype:.pdf" for pdf summaries.
  • If you find a .org site, look into the organization. Would they have any reason to present biased information?
  • Look for reports, overviews, and snapshots when you're looking for quick facts. You'll need a lot of time (and probably some advanced tools and knowledge) to find the information you want in a data set.
  • If you find a source that cites data from somewhere else, try to find the original source.
  • Pay attention to when data was collected. A report published this year could cite data that's much older.
  • Sometimes you can find what you need if you type in the phrase "open data" or "dataset."

Professor & Library Director

Dr. Bryan Carson's picture
Dr. Bryan Carson
Contact:
Murrell Library
660-831-4123

Attribution

Many of the links and resources listed in this guide were compiled by Jeremy Darrington, Politics Librarian at Princeton University Library, https://libguides.princeton.edu/prf.php?account_id=231.