MAKING SENSE OF STATISTICS
AT THE REFERENCE DESK
Write down a statistical
question that you’d like help
MAKING SENSE OF
STATISTICS AT THE
Health Libraries Association of BC
Increase confidence and understanding in answering
Learn the difference between data and stats
Share in effective strategies and tools to find the right
Key (and free) Canadian and international statistical
Answer actual stats questions!!!
Highest alcohol consumption per capita: Spain, Estonia or
Estonia! (OECD factbook)
Do more Canadians have cats or dogs as pets?
Cats! (WSPA report)
How much has the value of the gluten-free retail market increased
in Canada between 2011 and 2012? 2%? 5%? 10%?
10%! (Agri-foods Canada)
More people have a mobile phone than a toothbrush: True or
TRUE! (although difficult to verify) (MMA)
•Facts or figures* from which conclusions can be
•Numeric files created and organized
– for analysis, or to create a new table
•Includes geographic data
–(to make maps)
Statistics are processed data, or data that have
been analyzed in some way
Generally used to support an argument or
position in a study or report
DATA OR STATISTICS?
STATISTICS OR DATA?
RAW OR COOKED?
How do different health challenges rank across countries?
Rank and compare causes and risks in different countries based on deaths, YLLs,
YLDs, and DALYs by age group and sex.
Free / Fee based
Access via Statistics Canada Website* or
licensed through CHASS @ the University of
Data statistics, no analysis
Basic methods for gathering statistics:
Census: Census of Canada
Survey: Canadian Community Health Survey; Twenty Years
of Student Sexual Behavior (2004)
Administrative data: Vital Statistics-Birth Database;
Image credit: jassijava bricks on flickr
CAN YOU TRUST THE
Image credit: Wikipedia
WHO MIGHT GATHER
International infant mortality Cost of rent in Lethbridge
Drinking fountains in Vancouver Tobacco use among Canadians
Teen Internet Gambling Midwifery Industry
Pharmaceutical sales from drug stores Primary school enrollment in Ghana
SOURCES BY CATEGORY
FOLLOW THE DATA…
Data re-use at the Provincial level
What do they
want to do
with the info?
Use in a
Can you find
No? Can one
in a database?
Can you find an
Citations from research sources (books, articles,
Statistical yearbooks, abstracts, almanacs
Library and organizational metaguides
Organizational sites with specialized data
WHAT CAN WE FIND IN
AS SUPPORT FOR OUR DISCUSSION?
STATISTICS CANADA TIPS
Another word for: Higher education? Fitness?
Try a broad search term and scope the results
Browse by subject from front page
Search secondary sources for leads, e.g. The Daily
Finding and Using Statistics
REALLY useful overview of Statistics Canada and
statistical research in general
• I want to know everything about my province, municipality,
• How do I compare employment levels in different cities?
• How do I examine the relationship between ethnicity and employment?
Analysis, reports, visualization tools
• Instead of analyzing demographic tables myself, is there a ready-made
report I can use?
• How do I create maps based on the Census?
• Geographic files – ArcGIS
• Subscription products: Pcensus, SimplyMap
• Vancouver data Catalogue, VanMap, GeoSearch 2011
• Like Census profiles, but smallest entity is Federal Electoral
District (no census tract)
NHS Data Table
• Like topic based tabulations
NHS Focus on Geography Series
• Reports on topics by geographic areas. No map files (yet)
SOURCES BY CATEGORY
Trade / Professional
“Like many others, I believe access to
government information can lead to
better informed public policy debates
and hopefully some improved services
~ David Eaves
Co-sponsor, Open Data Vancouver Initiative
eaves.ca, May 2nd, 2012
Canada’s Action Plan on Open Government
Canada’s Action Plan on Open
Government: Figure 1: Our Commitments
“… recorded factual material commonly accepted
in the scientific community as necessary to
validate research findings, but not any of the
following: preliminary analyses, drafts of
scientific papers, plans for future research, peer
reviews, or communications with colleagues.
This "recorded" material excludes physical
objects (e.g., laboratory samples).”
U.S. Office of Management and Budget
Social Science and Humanities Research Council
"All research data collected with the use of SSHRC funds must be preserved
and made available for use by others within a reasonable period of time.
SSHRC considers "a reasoable period" to be within two years of the
completion of the research project for which the data was collected.“
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR):
"deposit bioinformatics, atomic, and molecular coordinate data into the appropriate
public database (e.g. gene sequences deposited in GenBank) immediately upon
publication of research results."
"retain original data sets for a minimum of five years (or longer if other policies
Andrea Cameron: email@example.com
Carla Graebner: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sylvia Roberts: email@example.com