Datasets are the raw pieces of information that are collected through surveys and other research tools and analyzed through statistics like "55% of state prisoners were serving sentences for violent offenses at year-end 2016" (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2017). Researchers publish statistics from individual studies in academic journal articles, but comprehensive statistics are also collected by non-profit research groups and government agencies at the local, state, national, and international level and published on the web for the public.
When would I need to find statistics and datasets? If you're working on a research project about a community or social issue, you might use statistics collected by nonprofit or government researcher to describe your population/problem and show why its important.
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ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research) is a database which provides public and restricted access to datasets, codebooks, and questionnaires. After logging in to ICPSR you can find SPSS files, codebooks, and more for download under the "Data & Documentation" tab for each project.
Government sources include published reports and information on the web about demographics, social programs, policies, laws, and recommendations at a local, state, or national level. There is a government agency for almost every aspect of public life that manages access to resources like housing, food, transportation, employment, and healthy lifestyles. Researchers and administrators are often tasks with conducting research and publishing official report to inform the public.
When would I need to find government information? If you're working on a research project about a current or historical social issue, you might use a government research report to understand the issue and how it affects a population, like the USDA's "Characteristics and Influential Factors of Food Deserts."
Not sure which government agency works with your topic? Try a search in Google using site:.gov and add keywords to find webpages and reports with statistics.
Statistical methods are formulas, models, and techniques researchers use to analyze raw data. Information on how to create your own statistics is usually found in background sources such as books, websites, and encyclopedias.
When would I need to find statistical methods? If you’re in a research methods or statistics course or sharing original research findings, these sources can tell you how to run a specific test, format data in SPSS, and more.
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