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Spring 2021 reference (research) help:
POL 150: Comparative Politics
This guide is meant to help you complete your Comparative Politics Study assignment. Use the resources listed in the tabs above to help you find statistical information and think through the issues inherent in finding statistical data. You'll notice that some resources are located in more than one spot, reflecting the many paths to access statistics.
You are more than welcome to discuss your topic and research needs with a librarian at the reference desk at any point in your research.
Thinking about Statistics
Searching for statistics, especially from other countries, can be at times challenging, frustrating and exciting. You will not find everything you're looking for in a neat and tidy package. Plan to spend a good deal of time sifting through sources to find the statistics you're looking for. Persistence and perseverance can pay off!
- Who/what would collect statistics on my topic?
Governments tend to collect many kinds of statistics. In the United States, for example, the government collects statistics on population trends, crime, health, education, housing, natural resources, etc. News organizations, polling places, institutes, think tanks and researchers also collect data, so consider the types of institutions beyond the government that would collect data on your topic.
- How would statistics on my topic be made public?
You can find statistics in a number of places, both in print and online. Use the tabs above for specific resources. Keep in mind, however, that not every statistic is publicly available.
- How does the structure of the country's government affect how statistics might be available?
If the country has a strong centralized government, you might find lots of statistics through a search of that government's webpages. If you have a country that is less centralized, like the United States, you might find that the federal government collects some statistics while states or provinces collect others. Keep in mind, too, that not every country collects the same kinds of statistics or to the same degree.
- What possible barriers might prevent me from finding statistics on my topic?
While researching statistics, there are many possible barriers. Statistics for your topic might not be made public, or might not be available in a neat package. You might have to sift through a lot of sources to put together what you're looking for. You might encounter language barriers. You might also find that data simply wasn't collected for the years you're looking for - or wasn't collected at all. Keep these possible barriers in mind, along with an attitude of patience and perseverance.
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