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Statistics: Getting Started

A guide to help you find statistics on a variety of topics, from a variety of sources

Why Use Statistics?

What can statistics do? 

  • Strengthen your argument
  • Provide objective information so you can debate arguments
  • Put an argument into context

Things You Need to Consider:

  • Statistics in and of themselves can't make the argument for you
  • Like direct quotations from outside sources, you must interpret statistics and apply them to the point you're making
  • Treat statistics as evidence that requires interpretation

Why Evaluate Statistics?

We've all heard how it's possible to "lie" with statistics.

Because of that, it's important to evaluate statistics so that you aren't manipulated into believing claims backed up numbers, facts, and figures. 

Using Statistics in Your Writing

Smartphone Stats

Finding Statistics

Helpful Hints:

  1. Sometimes statistics are found within the text of a journal, magazine, or newspaper article. 
    • As you research, take the time to skim through your findings to discover potential sources of statistics. 
    • Follow leads in the articles to locate other statistics. 
       
  2. Look in books and articles at graphs, charts, and diagrams to find statistical information. 
     
  3. Sometimes statistics are hidden within other articles but can't simply be found by searching the word "statistics." 
    • When searching library databases, combine your topic search with a subject search for statistics. (Ex: Malaria and statistics)

Search Words:

Add these keywords to your topic searches to focus on statistics for your topic:

  • Statistics
  • Data
  • Numbers
  • Trends
  • Polling
  • Figures
  • Tables

Search Examples:

  • Immigration AND Statistics
  • Global Warming AND Trends