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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. 

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. 

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.

  • Statistics refers to data that has already been analyzed.
  • If you want to do your own analysis, then you need data. Datasets are data that has been collected by someone else.

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.

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  use statistics to help support a hypothesis. Articles with statistics can help demonstrate how to incorporate statistics into your own academic writing. Look at the source the author used for these statistics; it may lead you to more sources for statistics or datasets. The Search for Statistics in Articles page shows you how to search for articles in the Library's research databases.

Types of statistics & data

Government agencies

  • standardized reporting and information collection from a wide variety of  institutions
  • legally mandated data and statistics
  • unbiased and trustworthy source of data

Research organizations

  • more specialized data amd published results
  • often non-profits with findings released to the public for free.

Professional organizations

  • useful for data about an industry or profession
  • results may be available to everyone, or just members
  • potential bias

Individual researchers

  • useful for data not available in other resources or locations
  • ​studies collect data from smaller cohorts or groups
  • 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.

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.

Statistics e-books

Book search

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.

Suggested books

The books listed below are suggested reading materials than can provide an overview and greater understanding of statistics.

Statistics in academic writing