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Find Data & Statistics

Before Looking for Data

Data and statistics are primary sources used as evidence, background information, or context for a topic.

Video: What is Data?

Questions to ask yourself before searching for data sets or statistics:

  • What data do I need to answer my research question?
  • What are my variables?
  • what is my time frame and geographic area?

Strategies for Finding Data

  1. Search in Data Archives and Repositories
  2. Identify Statistics that can lead to Data (NDSU)
  3. Identify Potential Producers or Creators of Data
  4. Search in Published Literature

Data Archives & Respositories

Producers of Data

Once you have identified a producer or creator, use a search engine to check if they’ve made the data you need available online.

  • individuals or groups of researchers
  • Colleges, universities, research organizations
  • Public and/or private companies
  • Non-governmental organizations (foundations, think-tanks, charities, non-profits)
  • U.S. government agencies, international government agencies, state and/or local government agencies

Published Literature

  • Data are often linked directly to or cited in discipline-specific research publications.
  • Search for research studies utilizing primary or secondary analyses to see if the data are publicly available.
  • Try contacting the author(s) of a published study and see if they would be willing to share their data with you.

Evaluating Datasets

Once you find a data set online, you will have to evaluate the quality of the research used to create it. 

Video: Evaluating Datasets

More Information

These guides from other university libraries provide search strategies and sources of data online.

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