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How to write a graduate-level essay

Step-by-step guidance and resources for planning, researching, and writing essays as a graduate student.

Finding statistical information

Depending on your topic, you may want statistics or data to support your arguments. To support you with this, we have listed many free and subscription-based tools in our Statistics and Data guide.

Finding statistics and/or data to support your research can take time, and it is a good idea to be flexible in what you are looking for. You may find that the best information available turns out to be a poor fit with the questions you need answered.

Here are some points to consider before you look for numbers to support your case:

  • geography: specific province or city? cities of a given size? a single postal code?
  • population: age, sex, ethnicity?
  • domain: the subject of your research
  • currency: How old is too old? (It takes a long time for agencies to compile and publish numbers.)

Keep in mind that any statistic you find had to be tracked, collected and published, which costs money. The more financial value information has, the more likely it is to be tracked. Accordingly, another important point to consider is who would keep track of the numbers you want? If the federal, provincial, or municipal government would track the data, the information are more likely to be accessible. If the private sector would track it, the information may be proprietary and more difficult to find.

If you are ever prompted to pay for statistics, please take careful note of the material you are trying to retrieve and contact a librarian. We may be able to get it to you without charge.