Once searchers have a good idea of the requirements, they can proceed to confront the large array of available statistical sources. This page discusses some initial steps in a good search. Subsequent pages go into greater detail.
It’s easy to make the mistake of skipping the important first step in any search—examining published works for relevant material. This can be done in a traditional research library—using its collection of printed materials or on line by downloading the electronic versions of the publications.
Even though the World Wide Web presents a vast array of tables, charts, maps and electronic resources, prepared reports and scholarly articles are still important because they represent carefully reviewed material.
Many of these are available to be downloaded from Web sites, but finding material in them still rests on traditional library methods or their electronic analogs. The physical method of access is not as important as understanding that searching for material in a prepared report requires different approaches and techniques than searching for information in websites.
Publications are also some of the best starting points for Internet searches. Many government agency reports are available as downloads from the web. Agencies offer enhanced services relating to the most important ones. For example, NCHS presents updated tables from Health US on its website.
Health, United States provides an authoritative summary of the main health statistics.