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LIBRARY GUIDE TO SA 104 - Foundations Media Art

Explore your topic
Finding Data
Designing your own survey? Harvard University has an excellent guide to survey design.

1. Determine your topic subject area.  Are you looking for economic data?  Population data?  Information on how people use their time, or their money?  Weather or health data?  Once that is determined, figure out some keywords that you can use.  For example, if you want data on the performance of Michigan schools, you might search on Google for "Michigan educational data" or "Michigan school performance data."  That would lead you to the Michigan School Data site.
Consider making a list of synonyms and related terms you can use as you search, in the event that you don't find what you need immediately.  

2. Government (.gov) and educational (think college or university - .edu) sites are often the best sources for data.  There are also research organizations, such as the Pew Research Center, which make their data available.  The example above--Michigan School Data--comes from the state of Michigan.  

BE VERY CAREFUL when gathering data from the open web.  Many lobbying organizations and religiously-affiliated organizations maintain research centers or provide data--question their motivation and potential bias!  If the data is being used to try and convince you to act, think, or vote in a particular way, be wary!!
Use the CRAAP test for evaluating information (worksheet created by Juniata University Libraries).

3. When in doubt, ask a librarian
Library subscription data resources
To find information on populations in the US (demographics):
American FactFinder has demographic information on the American population.
DemographicsNow
Statistical Abstract of the United States (Proquest)

A sample citation from DemographicsNow:
DemographicsNow. (2012). Boston, MA and San Francisco household comparison [Data]. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from DemographicsNow database.

Business Data
Business Insights: Global allows you to find financial data on companies and industries.
Global Market Information Database

Social Science Datasets
ICPSR This collection provides access to thousands of datasets across the social sciences.

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