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How Do I Find ~ Statistics and Data

Getting Started

Define Your Research Question
State your research question without describing the sources or data. This will help you identify a variable or variables (underlined below). 

Examples: 

Q1. Which characteristics of voters explain their vote choices in the upcoming 2020 presidential election

Q2. Do free trade agreements (FTAs) promote the members' bilateral international trade

 

Define Your Measurements
Find a specific language that best describes your concepts.  This will help you choose a data set. 

Examples:

Q1, characteristics of voters:

  • education: the highest degree that the person completed
  • income: annual household income, in USD
  • race: the person's self-identified race

Q2, countries' bilateral international trade

  • Annual bilateral trade volume, including imports and exports, in USD


Identify Population, Unit of Analysis, and Unit of Observation
Who are you interested in studying? Who or what is being described by your variable(s)? What is the unit in your data set? This will also help you choose a data set. 

(Micro-level) <-----Individuals, households, cities, states/provinces, countries -----> (Macro-level)

Examples:

Q1: Those who are eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election, at the individual-level

Q2: Country dyads in the world, for all countries in the world


Identify Time Frame and Frequency
For what point in time do you want to know this about the people, institutions, or products you identified? How often do you want to know it about them?

Examples:

Q1: The data are collected for the 2020 election year, and are not repeated over time. 

Q2: As many years as possible, repeated every year


Identify the Group Structure of Your Data
Are you looking for data collected at regular intervals over time? Identifying what sort of time series may be helpful as you search for data.

  • Cross-sectional: collected at the same point of time for several individuals
  • Longitudinal/Panel: data collected at a sequence of time points for each of a sample of individuals
  • Time Series: data collected at a sequence of time points, usually at a uniform frequency
  • Pooled cross-sectional time series: a mixture of time series data and cross-section data

 

Think about Your Data Analysis Methods and Tools

Don't know which data analysis method to choose? The model choice depends on your variable types and your data structure. Use this flowchart and the UCLA IDRE's guide to find the method for your analysis and its example code.  

Also, choose the statistical package for your analysis. For example, for quantitative analyses, people often use R, SPSS, Stata, or Python. For qualitative analyses, NVivo and MAXQDA are used often. All of the programs are either freely available or offered by Hamilton College. If you need assistance with using these packages, contact Ahra Wu (axwu@hamilton.edu).

We are also building Blackboard learning modules for these programs. Currently, a Stata Blackboard module is available to students. Contact Ahra Wu (axwu@hamilton.edu) to gain access to the Stata module. 


* Adapted from Nicole Scholtz' guide to Finding Data at the University of Michigan

 

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General Data - Database

General Data - U.S.

Macro-level Data Available Online

 

Micro-level Data Available Online

General Data - International

Macro-level Data Available Online

 

Micro-level Data Available Online

 

Resources Available In-person

Resources for Locating Data

Evaluating Data

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