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Statistics and Datasets

Introduction

The following sources are just a small number of the datasets available, many of which are free.  Most can be used by you to generate graphs, charts, etc. in MS-Excel and SAS among other software packages.

One of the reasons for this guide is to help you, the user find data and statistics. Another is to educate you in how important data is in our lives both in and out of school to help us make decisions.

The following article from the Harvard Business Review makes for an interesting read: Data is Useless Without the Skills.

“Data literacy”: competence in finding, manipulating, managing, and interpreting data, including not just numbers but also text and images.

Tips for Finding Datasets

One can use the Advanced Search in Google to look for available datasets. In the following example, we are looking for government datasets in an MS-Excel (.xls) format about firearms, specifically pistols or handguns.


 

Differences Between Data and Statistics

While the terms ‘data’ and ‘statistics’ are often used interchangeably, in scholarly research there is an important distinction between them.  

Data are individual pieces of factual information recorded and used for the purpose of analysis. It is the raw information from which statistics are created.   Statistics are the results of data analysis - its interpretation and presentation. In other words some computation has taken place that provides some understanding of what the data means. Statistics are often, though they don’t have to be, presented in the form of a table, chart, or graph. 

Both statistics and data are frequently used in scholarly research. Statistics are often reported by government agencies - for example, unemployment statistics or educational literacy statistics. Often these types of statistics are referred to as 'statistical data'.

Jim Bondra

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Jim Bondra
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