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Research Process

These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.


Statistical data will lend credibility to your research by providing facts and figures supporting your position. Therefore, statistics may be important to include in your class assignments, research papers, and theses. However, statistical data is not always easy to find since there is no single source for this type of information. Statistics may come from scholarly journals, magazines, newspapers, reports, websites, books, statistical databases, and more.

It is important to keep in mind that the most current statistics may actually be a year old or more. Organizations publish reports and statistics according to the data collection cycle (not necessarily annual), the time it takes to analyze and report the data, and the public release schedule.

This guide outlines several techniques and resources for finding and evaluating statistical data. When searching, it is important to keep in mind that the precise information you need may not exist; the data may never have been collected. In other cases, data might be held privately; not all data is available to the public. Be flexible and consider alternative measures to support your research.


The Statista database provides current statistics from private and government sources on a wide range of topics including technology, health, public opinion, and market research. For detailed information about the sources of statistics in Statista, click here.

You can access Statista by hovering over Research Resources on the Library homepage and clicking on A-Z Databases.

On the Statista home page, you may enter a keyword relating to your research topic to retrieve results for Statistics and Studies & Reports. A description of all content types available through the Library's subscription appears below. Note: NU does not subscribe to the Market Outlooks so content under the "Expert Tools" menu is unavailable.

  • Statistics: Over 1,000,000 statistics from four different databases: German, English, French and Spanish*
  • Forecasts & Surveys: 5-year forecasts on hot topics and exclusive surveys among consumers and experts
  • Infographics: Easy and appealing visualization of topical events
  • Topics: Over 80,000 topics are the ideal starting point for your research
  • Studies & Reports: Studies database containing over 32,000 external studies
  • Companies: Company database for over 5,000 companies

Screenshot showing Statista search results screen


The search results screen defaults to displaying the most most relevant content first (based on a formula which has been specifically developed for this purpose). You may change the sort feature to Date of Publication or Popularity by using the "Sort by" drop-down menu under the search box.

Screenshot showing the sort feature on the Statista search results.


Content from from the United States prioritized. This means that it ranks higher in your search results. You may change this prioritization to another country by using the "Location Focus" menu.

Screenshot showing the location focus filter in Statista


Below the content type filters on the left-hand menu, you can find more filter options, including Regions, Countries & Territories, Industry, Publication date, and Archive. The Archive feature allows you to view results from archived news entries which are no longer current, but still worth keeping in Statista.

The "Search accuracy" feature allows you to narrow your search down by using search specification parameters.

  • Normal: searches for the entered terms by means of an AND connective
  • Wide: searches for the entered terms by means of an OR connective
  • High: displays only the most relevant results of a search for the entered terms using an AND connective

Screenshot showing the search accuracy feature in Statista


To view available all search commands in Statista (Boolean operators, phrase searching, wildcards, etc.), click here.

Additionally, you may browse Statista using the drop-down menu at the top of the screen. To browse by industry, recent and popular statistics, or by topic, hover over the Statistics menu, as shown below.

Note: NU does not subscribe to the Market Outlooks so content under the Outlooks menu is unavailable.

Screenshot showing the Statista menu

From the search results screen, simply click on the statistic you are interested in to view the full record.

You may download Statista charts in the form of a .png image, or as Excel, PowerPoint, or Adobe Arobat files. These charts are permitted for use in your papers and presentations, as long as you properly cite the original source of the data in your research, not the Statista database. For details on properly citing Statista, see the next tab.

Download Formats:

  • PNG: As an image file, the statistic, visualized in the way that is visible on the page, can be easily embedded into other documents. In this format, neither the data nor the visualization can be changed afterwards.
  • PDF: PDF files are perfect for sharing via email. In this format, neither the data nor the visualization can be changed afterwards.
  • XLS: The Excel file contains the raw data of the statistic. Use it if you want to further process the data according to your requirements and visualize it. The second sheet contains all information about the source, survey and release.
  • PPT: As a PowerPoint slide you can embed the statistic into your presentation and apply your desired layout to it. The download includes a set of multiple slides, which provide you with a range of different visualizations. Simply use the slide that fits your presentation best.

Screenshot showing the Statista download chart feature.


Charts can be customized under settings. Click on the Gear icon to change the chart type and data labels. In case a chart looks overcrowded with data labels, you can, for instance, remove individual labels by clicking on them, before downloading the statistic by selecting Custom.

Screenshot showing the chart type feature in Statista.


Charts can also be shared on social media or embedded in web pages. Click on the Share icon to select from the available options or to view the embed code.

Screenshot showing the share feature in Statista

Related statistics, topics, and studies may be found at the bottom of the screen.

Screenshot showing the related content in Statista.

Statista has a citation tool on the right-hand side of the screen under the download options. Simply select APA from the citation drop-down menu as shown in the image below.

It is important to note, however, that you will need to check for the correct format with the Publication Manual of the American Psychological AssociationSeventh Edition. 

Please note that this information only serves as guidance. Use the Academic Success Center website to learn about coaching and access writingstatisticsediting, and APA Style resources. The Academic Success Center provides access to Academic Writer, which provides over 150 sample references, as well as nearly 10 sample papers. It also incorporates all of the references and other content from the Publication Manual.

Screenshot from Statista with the APA citation highlighted.

Please note that this information only serves as guidance. Use the Academic Success Center website to learn about coaching and access writing, statistics, editing, and APA Style resources.

Additional Resources

Often you may obtain statistics from journal, magazine or newspaper articles on your research topic. The Library’s NavigatorSearch is a good starting point since it searches most of the Library’s databases in a single, simultaneous search. To access, go to the Library’s homepage and look for the box in the middle of the page titled NavigatorSearch. Click on the Advanced Search link to bring up more search options.

You may include the keywords (statistics OR ratio OR proportion OR rate) as part of your search string, as shown below. Additional keywords to consider are prevalence, percentage, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables.

Screenshot of a NavigatorSearch for  TI "information literacy" AND ( (statistics OR ratio OR proportion OR rate) )

Conducting a search in Google or another internet search engine is also a good starting point for finding statistics related to your research topic. Reliable sources of statistics may include government and technical reports, scholarly journal articles, conference papers, white papers, and professional organizations.

When retrieving statistics from the internet, it is even more pertinent to evaluate the source as reliable and appropriate for use in scholarly research. Refer to the Evaluating Statistics section above for specific questions you should ask regarding the statistical source. The Website Evaluation page provides additional factors to consider before including online sources in your research.

Similar to a database search, in Google you may include the keyword statistics as part of your search string, as shown below. Additional keywords to consider are ratio, proportion, rate, percentage, prevalence, numbers, increase, decrease, data, trends, polling, figures, and tables. You may also want to try putting in the year in order to locate more recent statistics.

Screenshot showing an example Google search for "information literacy" statistics 2019

Government, agency and organizational websites are a great source of reliable statistical information.

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