1. What type of data and/or statistics do you need?
Vital Statistics: records of births, marriages, divorces and deaths;
Demographics: describe a specific population group, often defined by geographic region;
Health Statistics (mortality and/or morbidity): detail the incidence of certain diseases and conditions. This information may also be found in both vital statistics and in mortality and morbidity reports.
2. How reliable is the source? In order to know how to apply statistics, you need to know they were compiled. Consider the following in order to understand how relevant they are to your application. Identify who compiled the data, how it was gathered and the purpose. This information will help you determine the reliability. If you're comparing statistics from different sources, take into account the methodology.
3. What time frame is most pertinent? Determine the time frame for the statistics you're using. They vary between agencies.
4. What geographic location(s) are relevant? For statistics gathered in the US, take note of whether they are at the census tract or zip code level; they rarely match up making comparisons difficult.
5. What demographic/population are you focusing on? Categories may be based on gender, age, race and/or other demographic factors. Look for the definition of what populations the statistics refer to. For example, the definition of Adult may vary depending on who's gathering the data.
Content-based on the UCLA Vital & Health Statistics LibGuide.
Large national and international agencies: