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Data - Numeric Resources

Sources of freely available data and statistics for all subjects


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Welcome to the Libraries' Guide to numerical data!  This guide is designed to help you find data that you can use in your classes and your research.  If this guide does not have the information you are looking for, don't hesitate to email and we will be happy to help you find what you are looking for.

What's the Difference between Data and Statistics?

Recently I've met some people who use the terms "data" and "statistics" interchangeably.  But while they are both numeric, they mean different things to researchers and the world of academia. 

Data is raw, unadulterated information

Examples include:

  • the number of bars in a city
  • the number of pigs in the state
  • temperature 

With statistics, someone has "done something" to the data, or manipulated it in some way. 

Examples include:

  • the number of bars per person
  • population density
  • average daily temperature

Why can't I find anything more recent?

Data can be expensive and time-consuming to produce and process - often depending on its size, scope, complexity, and available funding.  The more people a survey includes, or the more observations that are recorded, the longer it will take for the data to be collected and processed, and the more expensive it is. 

Data can also be embargoed.  This is a ban on the publication of documents (or in this case data), for security or copyright reasons.  Scientists can wait until they have finished analyzing their data before making it available.  The US Census does this as well; reports on the changes in the population were available before the data was released to the general public.

Did you know?

Copyright law does not apply to facts, data, or ideas.  However, it does apply to their arrangement (as in a data base).  But,  just because data is not protected by copyright, it does not mean there are not other legal considerations. 

For more information, check out Facts and Data from the University of Michigan.

Do you have a copyright question?  We can help.  Contact