Introduction to finding data and statistics

This guide provides an overview of the data services available at the library. It will help you understand the research process and will enable you to save time by using library resources more efficiently.

Where to look?

Now that you know what you are interested in, where do you start to look?

Subject Guides Start with the library's research guide(s) by subject area that provides resources and links for your research topic. Many guides also have links to specific databases and data platforms subscribed to by the library or readily available online related to your research area. Refer to this page for the Guides by Subject.
Data producer

Could the data have been collected by a government agency (e.g. Statistics Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada)? Government data tends to be free and generally publicly available, but may require access through library resources or special requests.

A nonprofit/nongovernmental organization? For example, the International Monetary Fund, United Nations, World Health Organization, and many others collect and publish data. The library subscribes to many NGO data resources, so be sure to check the library’s Databases A–Z pages or search with Omni.

A private business or industry group? Commercial firms collect and publish data as a paid service to clients or to sell broadly. Examples include marketing firms, pollsters, trade organizations, and business information. This information is almost always fee-based and may not always be available for public release. The library does subscribe to some data services, be sure to browse the list of library resources below. 

Academic researchers? Academic research projects funded by public and private agencies create a wealth of data. This data may be free and publicly available, but may require access through library resources, such as Borealis: the Canadian Dataverse Repository. Access to original research projects may also be dependent upon contacting individual researchers.

Search online

Try targeted online search using Google and other search engines. Use Google domain search to find statistical products from government agencies, trade associations, or nonprofit organizations (e.g. unemployment rate

Another great strategy is to search for statistics and follow them to their data sources. For instance, The unemployment rate from Statistics Canada is derived from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).  The Public Use Microdata File (PUMF), in addition to numerous aggregated data tables, are available from Statistics Canada website, as well as library resources. 

Review the literature

Look for publications that cite a dataset of interest (e.g. scholarly articles or government reports). Unfortunately, citation of data sources are often incomplete, but this practice is changing. Check to see if the data or a related publication are cited and follow to the source.  For instance, in publication on the Statistics Canada website, there is often a section that describes which of its surveys were used in the analysis, you can then see what tables or microdata files are available for that survey. 

Review the library resources

The library provides access to openly available and subscription-based data resources. The campus community can discover these resources in the Databases A–Z pages.

Our key subscriptions include:

CANSIM Multidimensional @ CHASS

CANSIM is Statistics Canada's key database. It provides time-series tables on most social and economic aspects of life in Canada. The database enables users to track trends over time, and because of its multi-dimensional format, it allows selected data variables to be cross-tabulated.

Haver Analytics

Haver Analytics is a portal for up-the-minute macroeconomic data from over 1,200 government and private sources. Use Haver's tools to understand economic time-trends, through visualization and downloading for detailed econometric analysis. To use Haver Analytics, you first must install "DLX View and Graph" on your Windows computer, see Instructions to install DLX. Haver is to be used only on campus. Please note that the application is incompatible with Mac OS.

ICPSR: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

ICPSR is an international consortium of more than 750 academic institutions and research organizations. They maintain a data archive of more than 250,000 files of research in the social and behavioral sciences and hosts 21 specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.

ODESI - Data Service of Scholars Portal

Access data and basic analysis tools for social survey data from Statistics Canada and Canadian polling data as well as the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

Real Time Remote Access (RTRA)

RTRA is a Statistics Canada portal that allows researchers to upload SAS files to query a given survey and download the results.  RTRA can only provide descriptive statistics. 

Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF)

The Postal CodeOM Conversion File (PCCF) links six-character postal codesOM to standard geographic areas such as dissemination areas, census tracts, and census subdivisions. By linking postal codesOM to standard geographic areas, the file facilitates the extraction and subsequent aggregation of data for selected geographic areas.

Eurostat Microdata

The University of Ottawa is recognised as a research entity and supports access to Eurostat Microdata. Access to confidential microdata is restricted to protect the anonymity of individualsor businesses. We grant access to our microdata for scientific purposes only.

Ask for help

Knowing when to call in reinforcements and seek some help is important!

Contact us! We are here to help you find the data that best fits your needs.