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Statistics & Data: Get Started

About This Guide

This guide provides Canadian, U.S., and international sources for statistics and data.

General, comprehensive sources can be found by geography (e.g., General Sources - Canada and General Sources - U.S. and International).

More specific sources can be found under Sources by Subject... .

Not finding what you need? Please contact us.

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Data vs Statistics vs Information

These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually very different, as shown in the following table.

Table: Movie Rentals per Month by University Students

Data Statistics Information
2, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, etc. average number of rentals: 2.5 20 university students rent fewer than 5 movies per month
10, 15, 12, 14, 18, etc. average number of rentals: 14 20 university students rent more than 10 movies per month


Statistics are generally presentation-ready; Data will need to be manipulated in order for it to be meaningful.

What are Statistics?

According to Statistics Canada, statistics refers to "a type of information obtained through mathematical operations on numerical data" (Statistics: Power from Data!).

Examples of statistics include:

  • the median income of people in a city
  • the average number of children per family in a neighbourhood
  • the average temperature over the past week

What are Data?

Yes, "data" is plural! (singular form: datum)

According to Statistics Canada, data are "the raw material from which information is obtained" or the "facts or figures from which conclusions can be drawn" (Statistics: Power from Data!)

Examples of data include

  • the individual income levels of every person in a city
  • the actual number of children per family for each family in the neighbourhood
  • the temperature, taken at hourly intervals, during a one-week period


The Data Liberation Initiative (DLI) makes available specific datasets and files, including public use microdata files (PUMFs), to subscribing Canadian post-secondary institutions. The annual subscription fee allows faculty, students, and staff at these institutions unlimited access to these files for research and academic purposes. (DLI Licence

Access these files directly via ODESI.

Read more about the DLI.