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Finding Data and Statistics  

Last Updated: Oct 29, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Search Strategies

1. Targeted online searches (search engines like Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go, etc.)

  • Identify keywords for your search and enter them into a search engine followed by "statistics."
  • If your search isn't successful, think of synonyms for your keywords and try searching again.
  • If you think the government would compile these statistics, do a search only for .gov websites or domains by using the "site:" command.
    • Example search: retail employment statistics
  • The same is true for statistics compiled by a research institution or non-profit organization. Search for .edu websites or .org websites if you can identify them as producers.
    • Example search: student retention NDSU
  • Try a Google image search for your topic by entering keywords followed by "statistics." If you find a graph, map, or chart of the information you want, click the image to bring you to the source.


2. Producers/Creators

  • When looking for statistics consider:
    • Who might collect the type of data that would lead to this statistic?
    • Who might publish the type of data that would lead to this statistic?
  • Government Agencies (Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc.)
    • Collect data and disseminate statistics to inform government decision-making and the largest compiler of data and statistics
  • Non-Government Agencies (United Nations, World Health Org., etc.)
    • Collect data and disseminate statistics to inform and support claims made about a particular social issue or platform
  • Research Universities (ex.: NDSU's Center for Social Research and Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute)
    • Collect data and disseminate statistics from faculty research and various research organizations within the university
  • Private Organizations (businesses, marketing firms, etc.)
    • Collect data and disseminate statistics about staffing, employment, consumers, and other topics that is usually contracted and therefore fee-based

Once you have identified an agency, use a search engine to find their website to check if they have the statistics you need. For statistics from or about private organizations, the library may subscribe to a database that contains those statistics. See Literature strategy below.

3. Published Literature

Various library databases contain articles that include statistics to support the argument of the article. Think about which subject the statistic you want would come from and try looking at the NDSU Libraries Research Guides for that subject to get ideas on which database to search within.

Also, here are a few multidisciplinary databases you can search within to find statistics:

  • EBSCO Academic Search Premier - On the advanced search page, select the boxes for "chart" and "graph" under the "Image Quick View Types" so that only articles that contain charts and graphs appear as results in your search. Oftentimes, statistics are represented visually in articles and this is a quick way to narrow down your results.
  • CQ Researcher - Within the full reports, go to the "Maps/Graphs" section to view any statistics included visually within the report.

Try looking at other NDSU Libraries Databases in your specific subject area or browse an alphabetical list.

If you need help developing a search strategy please email Jylisa Doney or Alicia Kubas.


Example Statistics Search Strategy

Below is an example of using a Unit of Analysis to create a search strategy for finding statistics.

Sample Topic: The percentage of U.S. population that have graduated high school by state

1. Targeted online search

  • Sample searches in Google:
    • high school graduates statistics by state
    • educational attainment statistics by state

2. Producers/Creators

  • Federal Gov. Agencies
    • Bureau of the Census
    • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Local Gov. Agencies
    • Public and private high schools
    • Counties

3. Published Literature

  • Research articles and/or dissertations about the benefits of educational attainment, causes of poverty, etc.

Get Help

Questions about Data and Statistics? Contact Jylisa Doney or Alicia Kubas.

You can also ask for help by using the chat window.

North Dakota State University Libraries
NDSU Dept #2080 PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Reference (701) 231-8886
Circulation (701) 231-8888

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