Anecdotes are not data. If you want data, you should turn to today’s Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki:
Finding Statistical Resources (Sherry Engle Moeller, Ohio State University, 2005) CC Last updated 9/6/2006
I especially like this guide because it is more than a list of statistical resources. Sherry Moeller has a whole set of questions to help guide people to the right resource. She starts out with:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the subject of interest? (Topic)
Examples: Crime, Economics, Education, Health
- Who or what is being counted? (Unit of Analysis)
Examples: Individuals, Families, Households, Businesses, Farms, States, Countries
- What level of geography is desired?
Examples: World, Country, State, County, City, Census Tract, MSA, Zip Code
- Do you want data for a single location or multiple locations?
Examples: Ohio, Great Lakes Region by State, All U.S. States
- What time period should the data cover?
Examples: Most recent available, 1870, 1900-1950
- What frequency of data do you need? (Are you looking for figures for a specific point in time or are you comparing data over a period of time?)
Examples: One time, decennially, annually, monthly, daily
- What variables are of interest?
Examples: Race, Sex, Acreage, Gross National Product
Sherry also gives this practical suggestion:
If you don’t know who collected or produced the data, can you make an educated guess? (Who would need this kind of information?)
Examples: Number of airplane crashes in the U.S. – U.S. Department of Transportation?; Number of AIDS cases by country – World Health Organization?
Once she has given you some focus, Sherry’s guide moves into the following sections: General Sources, International Resources, Foreign Government Resources, U.S. Government Resources, State and Local Government Resources and Other Resources. Among the many annotated resources listed are:
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
- World Development Indicators (World Bank)
- Statistical Agencies [By Country]
- Energy Information Administration (DOE)
- Statistics at the State and Local Level
The full guide is well worth your time if you have any interest in statistics whatsoever.
Aside from this guide, there are about three dozen other guides to various kinds of statistics available from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange. Go check them out at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange_Subject_S#Statistics
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