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Research data

A guide to help you find data for your research

Data vs statistics

Deciding whether you need raw data or statistics can determine where you start searching for sources of data, and help  you evaluate whether you have found suitable data for your research.  Consider answering these questions:

1. Do you need a fact/s, or a number?

2. Do you need to do analysis for your work?

If you need facts and numbers it is likely you will need statistics. If you need to do analysis to generate insights for your work, it is likely you will need data.  This will help you choose the right source of data for your research.

Data

Data includes raw information or numeric files, often with many variables that can be manipulated, analysed and interpreted to understand circumstances or phenomena. It can be used to answer many questions, which is why it can be reused in research depending on the research focus or question.

Dataset example: each cell in the spreadsheet represents an individual response to survey questions

Images with permission Michigan State University Libraries

Statistics

Statistics are data that has already been processed and analysed. It provides an interpretation and summary of the data making it easy to understand. Statistics are often presented in tables, charts, graphs or as percentages.  Our Statistics guide gives more details on finding statistics.

Table 1206. Adult Attendance at Sports Events by Frequency: 2007