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National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

Step 3 Extend the Search to the Internet’s Special Resources
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No search for health statistics is complete without looking for material issued on the Internet. The organizations that collect, compile and create health statistics routinely use websites to publish their material and they have vastly increased the amount and character of this material.

How Important is Up to date information?
Statistical agencies now provide:
  • Their publications in electronic format This makes it possible to search these publications once they are downloaded. Search engines only partly cover the contents of these publications, but once you find the publication it is much easier to locate the specific information you need.
  • Supporting tables and detailed information Many organizations now issue their tables as spread sheets making it much easier to manipulate the results. This makes it much easier to extract the specific information and produce tables, graphs and charts for your analysis and presentations.
  • Databases that allow the researcher to select the material they want to appear in a table Users can extract the material following an online protocol. Many of these offer menus that show researchers the types of information that is available and allow them to choose what they need. These protocols also protect the privacy of subject by limiting the information so that it is not possible to identify individuals.
  • Detailed information about the methods used to collect information Websites are not really complete without providing the detailed documentation specifying the methods used. This makes it possible for users to assess the information, understand its limits and use it appropriately.
  • Copies of reports and articles published in the literature Authors are increasingly seeking to provide copies of their own work. Because any work done by federal agencies is in the public domain this provides a way in which the agencies can satisfy the requirement for free and open access.
  • Bibliographic information for related material Agencies provide reference lists that show researchers how to extend their searches to traditional library resources.
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