Data Tips

  • ALWAYS consider the potential bias of the statistics-gathering agency
  • Search for government data
  • To find stats related to a particular topic  (e.g. bicycle share programs)…
  • Cite your data sources. Check this Quick Guide for citing data or the detailed How to Cite Data guide from librarian Hailey Mooney at Michigan State

 Slideshow for Math Modeling

Click on image of title slide to open slideshow in PowerPoint Online.


Here’s a back-up link to the Google Fusion Tables video.

Data Blogs

Andrew Gelman (Columbia)
FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver)
The Guardian‘s (UK) Datablog

Data Sources for Multiple Topics (U.S. open data)
OFFStats (global)
Scientific Data(VCU LibGuide)
Statista (portal for market and consumer data)
Statistic Brain (tables not exportable)
The World Bank Data Center


Campus Safety – campus crime for one university or a group
Crime in the U.S. (FBI) – includes hate crime statistics


American Community Survey (ACS) – annual survey; see questions and why each is asked; searchable by 1-yr, 3-yr, and 5-yr estimates – shorter period includes fewer geo areas
American FactFinder (search by state, city, county, zip code) – interactive ACS data
Census Quick Facts (states, counties, and towns of 5000+)
Census Explorer – more visual – download icon at top right
Kids Count (U.S. Census data)
Tax Stats (IRS)

Education and Health

Food Environment Atlas (USDA) – food insecurity, cost, etc.
Project TYCHO (UPitt) – public health data – req. registration

Energy and Environment

Environment (General)
Natural Disasters
FEMA Data Feeds (Open FEMA)- data in a variety of formats
Policy and Claims for Flood Insurance (FEMA) – summaries; data in OpenFEMA

Labor and Trade

Business Data and (another way to find BLS info) – incl. state data
Labor Stats – U.S. (BLS) – incl. regional and state data

Politics and Social Science

American Natl Election Studies – req. registration for download
ASEP/JDS – intl social science
Global Indicators (PEW) – opinion of US and of China, confidence in American president
Public Opinion (VCU LibGuide)
World Values Survey (req. registration for downloads)


Sports Stat Guide (Cornell) – select under Information by Sport
Statistics in Sports (ASA) – some links are outdated but others OK

Yahoo! Sports (only male stats)

Data Visualization

Data and Code Sharing

Stack Overflow (for coding Q&A)

Resources for R and Git

Cookbook for R (Winston Chang)
Git Cheat Sheet (from GitHub)
Quick-R (Rob Kabacoff)

How to retrieve block level data from the ACS

The American Community Survey is one of the richest data sets compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau and is used by local governments, emergency services, and non-profit organizations to anticipate community needs. The most granular level of data is by Census Tract or Block Group. The tutorial below demonstrates how to use the Summary File Retrieval Tool (in conjunction with the Tech Document related to the Summary File you’re using) to retrieve this CSV formatted data using Excel 2007 (or higher).
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