By Linda Hauck
One of the favorite parts of my job is to support students in their search for data and statistics. Some students needs are met by a quick search in Statista, a database that aggregates data and statistics on a wide range of topics or a smart google search employing filetype:xls or site:.gov. These quick solutions are satisfying, for sure, but the real fun happens when students need multiple datasets for data analysis, or a research methods project.
To help these students, I start the conversation by asking about their topic and how they envision using data. We talk about their ideal dataset keeping in mind how it might be generated, who is likely to collect the data, what frequency, granularity, time period, populations, and geographies are needed. If there is an agency or organization that is obviously most likely to compile the idea dataset, it makes sense to start there. If not, doing a scholarly literature review and focusing on the data or methods section of papers will point to potential sources.
This data exploration process can be time consuming but fun!
Grace Liu, Business Librarian at West Chester University, with the advice of Bobray Bordelon, Economics & Finance Librarian/Data Services Librarian at Princeton University distilled the process in this neat infographic.
Linda Hauck, MLS, MBA is Business Librarian at Falvey Library.