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How to find statistics: Statistics Quick Guide

A quick guide to help you locate key statistical sources

  • Statistics is the science of collecting, analysing and presenting numerical data.
  • Statistical data can be found on a huge variety of subjects, for example the economy, employment, the environment, government, health, international trade, manufacturing, and population.
  • They can be a vital source of information for your studies.

Statistical Sources

Many organisations - including bodies responsible for official statistics - now publish their statistical data online, making it freely available on the web. We also subscribe to a number of online statistical sources, available via the A-Z Databases list. 

  • The UK Data Service provides access to over 6,000 computer-readable national and international datasets of quantitative and qualitative economic and social data across many disciplines and themes for use by researchers. To download data, or to analyse it online, requires registration but you can search and browse the data via the Discover tool. Enhance your data skills on the Learning Hub.
  • Census Support is part of the UK Data Service. It provides online access to data from the 1971-2011 census surveys. Explore the Census Data LibGuide to find out more.
  • Current Index to Statistics (CIS) is a bibliographic index to publications in statistics, probability and related fields, published by the American Statistical Association and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. It includes approximately 663,000 references to books, journal articles and conference proceedings.
  • UK Official Statistics are freely available via the GOV.UK website.  You can search or browse for content by date,  policy area and department.  You can check on the release of latest statistics using the Upcoming tab, which lists statistical release announcements.
  • The ONS: Office for National Statistics is the UK body responsible for collecting, analysing and disseminating statistics about the UK's economy, society and population. Datasets and statistical publications are freely available. And you can search or browse by theme to find relevant content. The methodology section provides Information on the methods used to produce the ONS statistics. This includes classifications, harmonisation, best practice, geography and user guidance for a wide range of data.
  • Eurostat is the statistical office of the European Union (EU). It provides the EU with statistics at European level to enable comparisons between countries and regions. It consolidates the national statistics data collected by the statistical authorities of the EU member states and ensures they are comparable, using harmonized methodology. The database includes datasets and online versions of publications, as well as press releases and tables of data. Statistics Explained is a guide to to the Eurostat statistics, presenting statistical topics in an user friendly, ‘Wikipedia-like’ user format.
  • OECD Statistics Portal. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a membership organization of 35 countries. Its mission is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. It collects comparable statistics and economic and social data, monitors trends, and forecasts economic developments. The  OECD.Stat database provides free access to a selection of the available datasets; you can search the database or browse it by theme.
  • UN Data provides a single access point to statistical data collected by the United Nations and its agencies. It links to 35 databases containing a total of 60 million records. You can search by keyword or use Advanced Search for more precise searches; the database explorer allows you to browse by dataset, source or topic.
  • IMF Data The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. The IMF publishes a range of time series data on IMF lending, exchange rates and other economic and financial indicators. Manuals, guides, and other material on statistical practices at the IMF, in member countries, and of the statistical community at large are also available.
  • The QoG Institute - QoG Data offers open-access datasets, both other sources compilations and original content, so users can learn, research and understand better the concepts relating to Quality of Government.

  • NationMaster compiles data from sources such as the CIA World Factbook, United Nations, World Health Organization and the World Bank. You can search, compare any two countries by category, and browse by category and by country.
  • UNESCO data, facts and figures. UNESCO provides the global community with reliable data, statistics and research in the fields of education, science, culture, communication and information. 
  • Our World in DataResearch and data to make progress against the world’s largest problems
  • World Bank Open Data - free and open access to global development data.

  • CIA World Factbook - The World Factbook provides basic intelligence on the history, people, government, economy, energy, geography, environment, communications, transportation, military, terrorism, and transnational issues for 266 world entities.

  • Kaggle - a repository of community published datasets and code. It offers access to free graphics processing units (performance computing) which can be accessed via a user interface that allows you to explore the datasets in either Python or R and write your own literate programming worksheets using markdown.
  • Gapminder combines data from multiple sources into unique coherent time-series that can’t be found elsewhere. Important note: “Most of our data are not good enough for detailed numeric analysis. They are only good enough to revolutionize people’s worldview. But we only fill in gaps whenever we believe we know roughly what the numbers would have been, had they existed.”
  • Google Datasets This is a search engine for datasets across a wide range of online repositories. Its mission is also to foster a data sharing ecosystem that will encourage data publishers to follow best practices for data storage and publication, and to allow scientists to show the impact of their work through citation of datasets that they have produced

The Forum Library at Exeter has print copies of some statistical series published by organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), and the Office for National Statistics. They are located at the classmarks P310 - P319 (in the journals section on Level -1 of the Forum Library). 

Eurostat publications are shelved in the Lasok Law Library (European Documentation Collection). 

However, is recommended that online sources are used in preference to print as they offer greater facilities for searching and analysis, and will be more up to date.

Many print series have ceased and are now only available online. 

Key database - Statista

Statista is a database that offers access to global statistics, data, graphs and infographics. Statista provides detailed information on over 100 industries and in-depth economic data on 120 countries; as well as information on global companies and market trends. All data is available to download and Statista allows you to edit how your data is presented.


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