Statistics Resources Comparison
Date: 17 November 2020
Community college students engage in research on a wide variety of topics, and at times, it may be necessary to provide statistical information in the exploration of their topic. These may be for composition classes (in which they are writing about a social issue), as well as classes in Communications, Sociology, Political Science, Business, and more. Statistical databases can provide quick data for research assignments, including slide presentations, and can also be appealing to visual learners, as many of these platforms provide visualization options for the data they contain.
CCL-EAR last compared statistical resources in 2014. With platform updates since, and implementation of the Ex Libris LSP throughout the California Community College system in 2020, this brief review offers an update for three current products: Statista, Statistical Abstract of the United States, and Rand State Statistics. We chose not to reevaluate SAGE’s Data Planet (a new platform is expected in January 2021), nor other statistical products that have recently come on the market (such as Social Explorer). However, CCL-EAR will be looking at these products and may assess in the future.
This update discusses, amongst other things, how Statista provides information as discrete objects with accompanying analysis, whereas Statistical Abstract and Rand State Statistics provide data with minimal or no interpretation for the user. Statista and Statistical Abstract may present statistics for the same topic and from the same source, but Statistical Abstract maintains jargon and format of the original source (such as flat images of Tables and Table numbering). Statista provides a narrative summary of the data and often ingests the data to be manipulable by the user. All three platforms include tools that allow users to manipulate the available data, but some may contain more robust features than needed for many community college users and applications. The level of added interpretative content and platform sophistication is also reflected in each product’s price point.
As related to accessibility, at the time of this review none of the products met WCAG 2.1 Level AA standards (available since 2018, with an update to WCAG 2.2 expected in 2021). In light of the number and diversity of people served by California’s 116 community colleges, it is essential that these vendors bring both student- and worker-facing library databases such as these into compliance to ensure libraries can continue offering them 1.
Comparing these products to each other with the aim of identifying a preferred one is difficult, because the value of the different features depends on users’ needs and can vary significantly amongst libraries. Therefore, each product is discussed separately to allow readers the opportunity to more easily identify a product appropriate to their unique needs.
Each product was examined for Content, Interface, Cost, Accessibility, and Customer/Technical support, with each feature rated on a five point scale (1=Poor through 5=Excellent).
If you have experience with any of the products the CCL-EAR Committee reviews, please leave a comment and rate its appropriateness for use in a community college environment.
† The offers and trials information are password protected. Actual prices are confidential between the vendor and the consortium.
For access contact Amy Beadle, Library Consortium Director, 916.800.2175.