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Guide to Bishop Library economics resources.

Data or Statistics?

What's the difference?  Statistics interpret and summarize data.  Data is the raw information from which statistics are created.


A statistic answers the question of “how much” or “how many”.  Statisical information will be presented in tables, graphs, charts.  In an article, statistics may be presented as numbers or percentages.  Statistics are the results of data analysis. 

A statistical table:

Source: Statistical Abstract of the United States.



Data can be analyzed and interpreted using statistical procedures to answer the questions of “why” or “how.” 

Raw data is the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a study or survey.

Data is used to create new information and knowledge, and is considered a primary source.  

Raw digital data may be found in datasets (ICPSR or, or in machine-readable data files (for programs such as Excel, SPSS, SAS).  This is a dataset:

Source:  Distribution and Production of Oil and Gas Wells by State.


More Statistics