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Statistics & Data: Statistics & Data Overview

Statistics overview

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. 

Find statistics & data

What do I need — statistics or data?

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.

  • Statistics & Data by Topic: Some data and statistics are available freely online from government  agencies, nonprofit organizations, and academic institutions.

Other Walden University Resources

  • ICPSR, which contains raw datasets, is a subscription database that that is available through the Center for Research Quality.
  • Articles published in peer reviewed journals may make use of statistics to support a hypothesis. These types of articles can help demonstrate how to incorporate statistics into your own academic writing, and may lead you to more sources for statistics or datasets. The Statistics in Articles page includes instructions that show you how to search for articles in the Library's research databases.

Types of statistics & data

  • Government agencies:
    • provides standardized reporting and collect information from a wide variety of  institutions. 
    • legally mandated data and statistics.
    • unbiased and trustworthy source of data.
  • Research organizations:
    • provides more specialized data amd publish results.
    • many are non-profit and will release their findings to the public for free.
  • ​Professional organizations:
    • useful for data about an industry or profession.
    • results may be available to everyone, or just members
    • be on the lookout for potential bias.
  • Individual researchers: 
    • useful for data not available in other resources or locations.
    • ​researchers produce studies that collect data from smaller cohorts or groups.
    • will need to review data for bias and quality.

A note on using statistics & data

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.

Statistics e-books

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.

Statistics in Academic Writing