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SOCA: Sociology: Data, Statistics, and Other Websites

Government Documents

How to use government documents

Government documents are publications issued by local, state, and federal government agencies. They're best used for topics related to public policy, laws, or regulations. They can also provide historical information. Reports from the research activities of government agencies can be useful for social issues or controversial topics.   

Finding government documents

The library's databases may include some government documents, but many more government documents are available on the internet. Searching Google using site: .gov or site: prior to your search keywords will only show results from those government websites. Adding the words document, publication, report, regulation, legislation, law, or policy to your search may help find these sources within those websites. 

Suggested sources for government documents


How to use statistics

A statistic is a fact or piece of data from a study. It's often an answer to the questions "how much” or “how many.” 

Statistics can be used in research to support a claim or position you are making. Statistics represent a specific time period in which data was collected and also might be limited to a specific geographic region or population. It is easy to ignore or overlook these contexts, which can lead to researchers misinterpreting and misusing statistics. While this misuse might make your position stronger, it hurts your credibility. 

Finding statistics

Finding statistics can be challenging. There is no single place to find statistics. Statistics might appear in research articles, but they could also be published independently by data collecting organizations.

The websites of government agencies, academic institutions, professional associations, regulatory agencies, and other organizations related to your topic are great places to look for statistics, as they often publish statistics on their websites. 

Keep in mind if you are looking for up to the minute statistics, that it takes time to collect, compile, and present data. The most current statistics you find might actually be months or years old. 

If you can't find a certain statistic you expected to, it could be that it does not exist. The data might not have been collected and analyzed yet. 

Suggested sources for statistics

Here are some of the most used sources of statistics for research at NCC: