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.
Books are a good place to start for introductory material and overviews. Refer to our Statistics e-books section in this guide for suggested resources and information on searching 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.
You can find datasets in sources like the ICPSR database (Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Science Research Datasets) or the U.S. Census.
Some data and statistics are available freely online from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions. The Statistics & Data by Topic page in this guide lists some of these resources.
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.
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.
While you can't reproduce charts, tables or graphs, you can 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 can find books about statistics in the Library's e-book collection. Use the search below to find encyclopedias or e-books on your topic.
The books listed below are suggested reading materials than can provide an overview and greater understanding of statistics.