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Statistical Data at Your Fingertips

Access to the astonishing variety of statistical data compiled and distributed by government agencies has always been a challenge, which makes the increasing availability of numerous resources via the web welcome news for researchers. As an official depository for publications and data issued by both the federal government and the State of California, the UCI Libraries are well positioned to help you find what you need.

The U.S. Census Bureau and more than 35 other U.S. agencies exist primarily to gather and publish statistics for use by the government or the public. Many state agencies and international organizations offer additional data resources. Topics run the gamut: from agriculture to women, people and their jobs, health, transportation, housing, race, age, gender, and more. Many data sources span multiple years but may be limited in terms of geography, gender, or other factors.

Government statistics are considered extremely credible and consistent, although good research methodology always calls for appropriate skepticism and techniques for uncovering potential biases in data collection or presentation. By ensuring confidentiality to individuals and businesses, the government is able to collect statistics that could not otherwise be made publicly available. A look at the UCI Libraries’ government statistics web site provides an introduction to the vast array of resources available: https://www.lib.uci.edu/online/subject/subpage.php?subject=usstats

For data about California, librarians from various University of California campuses have gone the “extra mile” by amalgamating data from numerous major federal and State statistical sources into one freely available resource. Data can be approached topically, geographically, and by source agency, among other approaches. Try Counting California (http://countingcalifornia.cdlib.org/), and please give us any feedback you may have; we want to make this award-winning resource as useful as possible.

Freely-available web resources tend to focus on data issued during the past ten or twenty years only, since the source data was created in machine-readable form. Some older data sets are available for a fee from commercial sources that re-issue historical government data in flexible online formats. The Libraries subscribe selectively to the best such resources.

Expert librarians are eager to help you locate and utilize the most appropriate statistical resources to meet your needs.

For more information, please contact Kay Collins, U.S. Government Information Librarian (kcollins@uci.edu or x47290).

 

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