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How To Do Research: Data & Statistics

An introductory guide on the research process for graduate students.

Data & Statistics

Data is raw information from which statistics are created. Statistics provide an interpretation and summary of data.

Data from datasets can be analyzed and interpreted using statistical procedures to answer "why" or "how." Use data when you need raw numbers to complete your own analysis for research.

Statistics include statistical tables, charts, and graphs as well as reported numbers and percentages in an article. If you are looking for a quick number, you will want to look for a statistic. Statistics will answer "how much" or "how many." Use statistics when you need quick facts to make a point or support your argument.

Searching for Statistics in Library Databases

You may be able to find statistics from journal, magazine, or newspaper articles on your research topic. The Discovery Search box on the library homepage is a good place to start since it searches most of the library databases at once. 

To search for statistics, first access the Discovery Search box's advanced search. You can do this by leaving the keyword search box blank and clicking on the "Search" button:

You can include the keyword "statistics" as part of your search string. Other keywords to consider include ratio, proportion, rate, percentage, prevalence, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables.

Searching for Data & Statistics Online

Google Dataset Search

Google Dataset Search searches thousands of repositories across the Web and allows you to find datasets wherever they are hosted.

You can find the permanent link to the datasets you select within the "share" button:


You can use Google or another search engine to find statistics related to your research topic. Credible statistics sources may include government and technical reports, scholarly journal articles, white papers, and professional organizations.

You can include the keyword "statistics" as part of your search string. Other keywords to consider include ratio, proportion, rate, percentage, prevalence, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables.

Sources of Data & Statistics


U.S. Census Bureau (formerly American FactFinder)

The Census Bureau is the leading source of quality data about America's people and economy.

Bureau of Transportation Statistical Products and Data

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), part of the Department of Transportation (DOT) is the preeminent source of statistics on commercial aviation, multimodal freight activity, and transportation economics, and provides context to decision makers and the public for understanding statistics on transportation

Pew Research Center for Global Attitudes and Trends

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.


IBISWorld: Business Environment Profiles

IBISWorld's Business Environment Profiles provide insight into key drivers outside of an industry's control, including exchange rates, commodity prices, interest rates, weather conditions, consumer attitudes, demographics and many more.

Mergent Online

Provides detailed financial records for company research, including up to 15 years of historical data.


Archival Economic Data (ALFRED)

ALFRED allows you to retrieve vintage versions of economic data that were available on specific dates in history.

Bureau of Economic Analysis

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis is the source of accurate and objective data about the nation's economy.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision making.

EDGAR (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

The EDGAR database provides free public access to corporate information, allowing you to research a public company’s financial information and operations by reviewing the filings the company makes with the SEC. 

Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED)

FRED is an online database consisting of hundreds of thousands of economic data time series from scores of national, international, public, and private sources.

Geographical Economic Data (GeoFRED)

GeoFRED allows you to create, customize, and share geographical maps of data found in FRED.

Global Edge

Global Edge is your source for international business and trade information on all 50 U.S. states.


ILOSTAT has a wealth of information on labour statistics, from free access to almost 100 million data points to extensive statistical guidance. 

International Trade Administration

Explore the latest trends in U.S. exports and imports by trading partner and product.

IRS Tax Statistics

On this site you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system.

Women in the Labor Force

From the U.S. Department of Labor, this site offers data related to women in the workforce.


National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS)

NHGIS provides easy access to summary tables and time series of population, housing, agriculture, and economic data, along with GIS-compatible boundary files, for years from 1790 through the present and for all levels of U.S. census geography, including states, counties, tracts, and blocks.

United States Census Bureau

The Census Bureau is the leading source of quality data about America's people and economy.

Find data about the U.S., such as demographic and economic data, population, and maps.

USA Spending

USA Spending is the official open data source of federal spending information.


Correlates of War Project

The Correlates of War Project seeks to facilitate the collection, dissemination, and use of accurate and reliable quantitative data in international relations.


Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union. Its mission is to provide high quality statistics and data on Europe.

Humanitarian Data Exchange

The goal of the Humanitarian Data Exchange is to make humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis.

International Database

The Census Bureau's International Database is the U.S. government’s source of population estimates and projections (E&Ps) for over 200 countries and areas of the world to the year 2100.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Find, compare, and share the latest OECD data:  charts, maps, tables, and related publications.

Population Reference Bureau

The Population Reference Bureau analyzes and disseminates information about populations and their health and well-being.


UNData brings international statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single-entry point. Users can search and download a variety of statistical resources compiled by the United Nations (UN) statistical system and other international agencies. The numerous databases or tables collectively known as "datamarts" contain over 60 million data points and cover a wide range of statistical themes including agriculture, crime, communication, development assistance, education, energy, environment, finance, gender, health, labour market, manufacturing, national accounts, population and migration, science and technology, tourism, transport and trade.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is the official and trusted source of internationally-comparable data on education, science, culture and communication. 

The World Bank

The World Bank provides free and open access to global development data.


UNStats compiles and disseminates global statistical information, develops standards and norms for statistical activities, and supports countries' efforts to strengthen their national statistical systems.

American National Election Studies

To serve the research needs of social scientists, teachers, students, policy makers and journalists, the ANES produces high quality data from its own surveys on voting, public opinion, and political participation.

Bureau of Justice Statistics

The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, crime victims, and criminal justice operations.

FBI Crime Statistics

The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program generates reliable statistics for use in law enforcement. 

Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal

See how candidates and committees raise and spend money in federal elections.

Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT)

The GDELT Project is an open platform for research and analysis of global society. Its Global Knowledge Graph connects the world's people, organizations, locations, themes, counts, images and emotions into a single holistic network over the entire planet.

Global Database on Elections and Democracy

This site provides statistics on voter turnout from around the world as well as information about democratic trends at the country, regional, and global levels.

Global Terrorism Database

The Global Terrorism Database provides information on domestic and international terrorist attacks around the world since 1970, and now includes more than 200,000 events.

Office of Immigration Statistics

Since the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Immigration Statistics has responsibility to carry out two statutory requirements: 1) to collect and disseminate to Congress and the public data and information useful in evaluating the social, economic, environmental, and demographic impact of immigration laws; and 2) to establish standards of reliability and validity for immigration statistics collected by the Department’s operational Components.

United States Attorneys Annual Statistical Report

The annual statistical reports for the Offices of the United States Attorneys contain statistical tables displaying both national and district caseload data, covering the many priorities of the United States Attorneys in both criminal prosecution and civil litigation.


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Research Appointments

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The CSU librarians can support you during the research process with personalized reference services. We are happy to help you with the following tasks:

  • Accessing and using the CSU Library databases in order to create a peer-reviewed literature review with library resources
  • Using free personalized database folders within multiple database platforms to organize your research
  • Brainstorming keywords and recommending search limiters to use
  • Locating the dissertations and theses that may support and inform your research process