Help Guides » Finding Data & Statistics

Finding Data & Statistics

What is Data?

Data and statistics are primary sources which can be used as evidence, background information, or context for a topic.

Questions to ask yourself before searching for data sets or statistics:

  • What data do I need to answer my research question?
  • What are my variables?
  • what is my time frame and geographic area?


data: quantitative (numerical) and/or qualitative (text, images, sound, etc.) information collected during research.

Formats: numerical tables, photos, sound recordings, descriptive notes, 

statistics: data that have been analyzed, summarized, interpreted, and/or evaluated.
Data analysis can be statistical, mathematical, and use other procedures to answer research questions.

data visualization: Presenting data or statistics in a visual format. 

Formats: tables, charts, maps, graphs, infographics, reports,

unit of analysis: who or what is being described in the data (ex. companies, individuals, families?)

Source: UWash Library Guide
Source: UMich Library Guide

Evaluating Datasets

Once you find a dataset online, you will have to evaluate quality of the research used to create it. This video explains some factors to consider.

General Data & Statistics

Google Public Data Directory List of open data sources on the web

Google Dataset Search Search for datasets online

Open Access Directory Data Repositories List (Simmons College Wiki) US government portal for agricultural, economic, environmental, health, education, science, and government data.

Michigan State Data: government, history, health, finance, economy, education, environment, public safety, and GIS

Demographic Data & Statistics

Gapminder  international economic, medical and social statistics

UNICEF: international data about children and women

International Database: demographic information for 228 countries with 5,000 or more people from UDS.

American Fact Finder United States Community Information based on the US Census (2010)

Open Data Network U.S. Data organized by state and metro area.

Statistical Abstract of the United States: historical census data 1889-2010


Health and Medicine Data & Statistics US health and medicine data

National Center for Health Statistics- Fast Stats   Alphabetical list of stats on public health issues

National Center for Health Statistics- Health annual report Datafinder and infographics

The Broad Institute: Cancer related data sets 

State Health Facts (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation)

World Health Organization Data Repository: Health-related statistics from over 100 countries


Business and Economic Data & Statistics

Google Finance: US and International Stock Market Data

US Department of Labor: US inflation, employment, consumer spending, time use, and productivity data

US Bureau of Economics: US and international inflation, GDP, employment, consumer spending,

International Monetary Fund: International economic data

UN Comtrade Database: international trade data from the United Nations

Criminal Justice Data & Statistics

WILENET: Wisconsin Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR)statistics

Bureau of Justice: Data about US law enforcement, prison, parole and probation, and courts

National Crime Victimization Survey: Personal & household crime data 1973- from the US Dept. of Justice.

International Crime Victims Survey: United Nations survey of crime and safety in the European Union.