Statistics provide powerful evidence that can help you support a position or argument. Put simply, statistics make data meaningful. While the basic concept of statistics is straightforward, finding and using statistics can be complex. Refer to our Statistics e-books box in this guide as a good place to start for introductory material or run a search for other e-books on a similar topic.
When you begin your search, you will need to determine if you need prepared statistics or raw datasets. The term statistics refers to data that has already been analyzed.
If you want to do your own analysis, then you need a dataset. You can find secondary datasets (data that has been collected by someone else) in sources like the ICPSR database (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Science Research Datasets) or the U.S. Census.
It is important to note that formatted charts, graphs, and tables are protected under copyright. That means you cannot reproduce them in your own works without explicit permission from the original copyright holder or holders.
To clarify, it is permissible to cite statistical data in-text with proper attribution. For example, you can share that in 2009, only 27.4% of adults in the United States ate three or more servings of vegetables each day (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009). Be sure the statistic is accompanied by a reference to the original source.
You are not allowed to reproduce an entire table without explicit copyright permission or licensing from the creator.
If you would like to use a copyright protected chart, graph, or table, a good first step is to contact the publisher of the book, journal, or report in which it appears. Many publishers are supportive of student researchers and have processes in place for securing permission.
Books covering statistics can be found in the Library's ebook collection. Search for books on your required topic below.
The books listed below are suggested reading materials than can provide an overview and greater understanding of statistics.