It takes time to collect, analyze, and publish data. Sometimes the most recent available data is a few years old.
National and state data are more prevalent than city/town data.
Sometimes you'll find published data sets, which contain raw, unanalyzed data. See the Tips for Searching Google box below for help finding analyzed, ready-to-use statistics.
Data can be taken out of context, cherry-picked, or manipulated to support a particular point of view. If you're not sure you can trust a source, try to verify the information in a second source.
Keep an eye out for:
Reports, overviews, and snapshots - These analyze and summarize data for you. You'll probably also find raw data sets, but it takes a lot of time (and probably some advanced tools and knowledge) to find the information you want in a data set.
References! If you find a source that cites data from somewhere else, try to find the original source.
Dates - Pay attention to when data was collected. A report published this year could cite data that's much older.
.gov - City and town websites have lots of local demographic and health information.
.org - but look into the organization. Would they have any reason to present biased information?
To cite a report that you found online, use the "Non-Periodical Web Document or Report" example on the Purdue OWL website. If no specific authors are named, you can use the name of the publishing organization instead (i.e. U.S. Census Bureau).
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
Organization Name. (Date of publication). Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
Charts, Tables, Infographics, etc.
To cite a chart/table/infographic that you found online, use the "Graphic Data" example on the Purdue OWL website. Again, use the organization name if no specific authors are listed.
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Date of publication). [Description of figure]. Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
Organization Name. (Date of publication). [Description of figure]. Title of document. Retrieved from http://Web address
Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment. (2007). [Graph illustration the SORCE Spectral Plot May 8, 2008]. Solar Spectral Data Access from the SIM, SOLSTICE, and XPS Instruments. Retrieved from http://lasp.colorado.edu/cgi-bin/ion-p?page=input_data_for_ spectra.ion