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Statistics - About Statistics

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USING STATISTICS

What are statistics?

  • Collections of numerical facts or data which have been classified, analysed and interpreted
  • Federal, State and Local Governments are the main sources of statistics
  • The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is the official Government Department responsible for collecting statistics in Australia.
  • You can access the ABS Help Index here or read their FAQs here.

Why use statistics?

  • They provide evidence to support the claims or arguments made in your assignments.
  • They help you to think carefully and systematically about your topic.
  • They help you avoid making assumptions that are not supported by facts.

Locating statistics:

  • Books - do a keyword search on the Library Catalogue 
  • ABS Website
  • Internet  when searching the internet combine your search term with the term "statistics" eg "aged care" statistics

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EVALUATING STATISTICS

Before using statistics it is important that they are evaluated. You need to consider a few basic issues:

Reliability - are the statistics from a reliable authoritative source such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics? If the figures are quoted in a newspaper, try and find the original source to verify the information. Be aware that many authors may only quote a selection of statistics, which may give a bias impression.

Date -  do the statistics cover the period for which the data is needed? Always check the currency of the figures, or if you are after historical statistics, check that the figures cover the time period that you require.

Appropriate - do the figures contain enough detail, or perhaps too much for your purpose?