Data and Statistics
In QUEST, you will need to use a lot of statistics to establish the scope (how many people are affected by my issue?) and severity (what effects does it have on them and their lives?) of your social issue. This is the first step to changing any social problem. Stats tend to be gathered mostly by government and intergovernmental agencies, universities, and reliable nonprofit organizations. See below for some of the places to get started.
MULTIPLE SOCIAL ISSUES:USA FactsAmerican Fact FinderDraws from a variety of U.S. government statistics sourcesU.S. Census BureauPew Research CenterA large nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts surveys on a wide variety of U.S. issues. Widely regarded as a neutral source with good methodology.GallupA large U.S. polling company. Have you ever heard, "according to a Gallup poll..."? That was these guys.Public Policy Institute of CaliforniaA nonpartisan "think tank" and research organization co-founded in 1994 by a UC Berkeley chancellor, the former dean of Stanford Business School, and the co-founder of the Hewlett-Packard company. Conducts polls and organizes conferences on a variety of social issues.
HEALTH:CDC--National Center for Health StatisticsCDC--Fast StatsMedline Plus Health Stats (a service of the National Library of Medicine)National Center for Biotechnology InformationNational Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)American Psychological Association data links pageSome of these require user registration, but many are open-accessPub Med (medical research studies, many available in full text)Stats on immunizations/vaccinationsFood and Nutrition Data, Dept. of AgricultureNational Cancer Institute StatsCancer Statistics, also from NCI
ECONOMICS, EMPLOYMENT, POVERTY, HUNGER, HOMELESSNESS:Hunger: California Association of Food Banks data pageCalifornia Dept. of Social Services Data pageProvides data from the State of California on hunger, services for people with disabilities, services for children, etc.Poverty: Census Bureau dataEconomy at a Glance (Bureau of Labor Statistics)Homelessness: the American Housing SurveyCo-sponsored by HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) and the U.S. Census BureauHomelessness: HUD dataHomelessness: Harvard University Joint Center for Housing StudiesEmployment: Bureau of Labor StatisticsOccupational Outlook Handbook: Includes stats on jobs gathered by the BLS (see above)U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Stats
STEM:National Science FoundationClick on the blue button "Explore the Data"National Center for Science and Engineering StatisticsStats on Tech jobsUC Davis ADVANCEThis program at UC Davis has the goal of increasing minority participation in STEM fields (racial and ethnic minorities and women)Pew Research--Internet and Technology:
ENVIRONMENTAL and ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES:
*NOTE: QUEST is based on human social issues, so if you choose an environmental topic, make sure to keep your focus on the human impact (ex: health, economic, etc.) of that environmental problem.Cal Enviro Screen:
EDUCATION:National Center for Education StatisticsEducation Fast FactsTeachers' use of educational technologyU.S. Dept. of Ed Statistics linksArts education in schoolsArts education in schoolsStudents with disabilities:https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.aspStudents with disabilities:How many students with disabilities receive services?
CRIME, INCARCERATION, JUSTICE SYSTEM, LAW ENFORCEMENT:Bureau of Justice StatisticsCriminal justice system topicsCrime Statistics from the FBI:Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI:
DISCRIMINATION:*TIP: For this topic, it is helpful to think of ways in which discrimination appears that can be measured, and look those up separately. For example: hate crimes, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, etc.LGBT Issues--Williams Institute, UCLA School of LawThis think tank within UCLA law school conducts research on LGBT issues and does an LGBT analysis of the U.S. Census to answer questions like how many Americans are gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc.Hate Crime Statistics from the FBI:
OTHER TOPICS:Bureau of Transportation StatisticsNational Highway Traffic Safety AdministrationStatistics about Sports (from the President's Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition)Statistics about arts (National Endowment for the Arts--NEA)U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission--injuries and deaths associated with various activitiesImmigration--Pew Research:Immigration--U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:Immigration--Dept. of Homeland Security:
Pro Tips:1. Not finding what you need? Try Google's Site Operator:A great deal of the statistical information collected on social issues in the U.S. is collected by government agencies or by government-funded researchers. Try using Google's site operator to focus in on government sources and other sources that collect a lot of data, like universities and nonprofits. How? Put your search terms (alzheimer's statistics, early childhood education data, sports injury statistics, etc) into the Google search box, followed by a space, then the word site, followed by a colon, and then the domain suffix (.gov, .edu, .org) that you want to search. There should be NO SPACES AFTER THE WORD "SITE." This is how it looks:homeless youth statistics site:.govor:racial discrimination statistics site:.org2. Don't be fooled or impressed just because you see numbers! Think critically about statistics:“Graphs are not always what they seem. There may be more in them than meets the eye, and there may be a good deal less." --Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics.Look for things like:
Base rate for increases/decreases/comparisons: "35% more..."--more than what?
Definition of terms: When they say ‘seniors' what age are they counting? Did they ask survey respondents to choose their own racial/ethnic group, or did researchers decide?
Sample size: How many people were surveyed/studied?
Sampling method: Did they choose people at random or did they pick people out of a particular group (ex: students at an Ivy League university; Republican voters; Fox News versus NPR audience members)? Did people apply to be part of the study?3. Look for reasons for a difference between two sources. If one of your sources says 45% of adolescents experience depression, and another source says 30%, why the difference? Is one source newer? Does one source have a difference in how they define "adolescent" that could cause the rates to change? (ie; 13-18 years old versus 13-25...the person defining "adolescent" the second way would have a bigger number, right?)4. How old is too old?It takes a while to collect statistics on a large number of people, so if the data you have is from 2016 and it's 2017, you might not be able to get numbers that are newer. But if you find a great report with some really awesome stats, but it seems a little old to you, it is possible that the group or agency has done this report again more recently. Try searching for the same report online and adding a more recent year, ex: American Housing Survey 2017