In looking for statistics, one useful approach is to begin by asking a few questions.
- What group or organization would be producing such statistics? Examples:
- For domestic education statistics - the US Dept. of Education
- For automobile sales data - a trade association, e.g., National Automobile Dealers Association
- Why would they need the data, and how would they acquire it?
- Would they have the means and incentive to publish it?
- Would they be required to report to information to a government agency (which one)?
In other words, begin by considering where you might reasonably expect to find the statistical data you are seeking. Thinking about your information needs at the beginning of your search can sometimes save you hours of fruitless effort.
- An approach that may not work well (and can get very frustrating) is searching the open Web (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) This sometimes works, but often does not. Plus, you want to know whether the statistics or data are coming from a reliable source, and an individual web page may not tell you this.