Statistics Resources Comparison

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.

1. An urgency highlighted by the California court case Payan v. Los Angeles Community College District, 2:17-cv-01697-SVW-SK (C.D. CA 2019).


Ratings Key

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).


Statista (Statista)

Overall ScoreContent — 40%Interface — 25%Cost — 15%Accessibility — 15%Support — 5%
3.45
4
4
4
4
2
2
2
2
5
5

Coverage

Statista claims to gather their statistics (more than 1 million) from 22,500 sources on over 80,000 topics, and to be a "leading provider of market and consumer data." It appears to be useful for business and marketing purposes. The coverage is current. The platform provides in-house analyses of the data.

Integration with Primo

Not discoverable in Primo.

Relevance

Content applicable to a broad range of disciplines and fields; navigation, tools, terminology suitable for self-help. Visually appealing interface, easy to understand text, exportable graphics perfect for a student slide deck. Display and export options allow for flexible presentation of data. Breadth of information, search/retrieval/display features may overwhelm students and require help to select and use, but data is easy to understand.

Accessibility

VPAT - Version 2.3 as of date of review posting (Dec. 2018; answers updated Feb. 2019). Identifies WCAG 2.0 levels A and AA.

Usability

Prominent single search box with some “hot topic” suggested categories below the box - may entice the user into browsing mode instead. Results break into four categories and these can be toggled on and off (as facets). Infographics exist as one kind of result. Paid content included, but may cause hesitation on the part of the user. Sources for the statistics are well cited throughout.

Authentication & Privacy

Access can be enabled via IP authentication.

Privacy Statement This site does not use personally identifiable information (PII) unless registered by the user (such as a newsletter signup.) Functional cookies (to make the site work) are used, as well as more invasive cookies (such as those identifying referring websites).

Format Portability

Many statistical sources can be downloaded in PDF, XLS, PNG, and PPT formats.

Cost

FTE tiers. Price higher than basic standard sources (such as PQ Statistical Abstracts), but greater variety of data sources with potential application to broader range of student assignments. Interface refined, intuitive, easier for lower division students to use and interpret. Rating is based on higher-than-average pricing (making it unaffordable for many public community colleges), but also reflects its strong value for institutions whose budgets can accommodate it.

Other

Customer Service/self-help: Very responsive, helpful prompts, easy self help. Customization: Data easily manipulated/viewed/presented online, or downloaded for offline use and further manipulation. Citations: Citation generator for charts and tables, APA, MLA, Chicago, Harvard

Statistical Abstract (ProQuest)

Overall ScoreContent — 40%Interface — 25%Cost — 15%Accessibility — 15%Support — 5%
3.10
3
3
3
3
4
4
2
2
5
5

Coverage

Data from Statistical Abstract editions 2013-2020. Includes 1400 tables for, and 200K+ tables in all. Although the United States government continues to compile the data, Proquest now produces this publication. The content is updated monthly. For the limited amount of source material available, the coverage is current. The platform provides no interpretive analysis of the data presented.

Integration with Primo

Discoverable in Primo.

Relevance

Content applicable to social and political science disciplines and related fields; comprehensive source for U.S. government-produced or sponsored data. Standard, reliable college reference source and vendor. Students may require assistance to search, identify, and select appropriate results.

Accessibility

VPAT Version 2.2 as of date of review posting (Revised Section 508 Edition—July 2018; answers updated June 2019.)

Identifies WCAG 2.0 levels AA and AAA

Usability

Users can use a search box or browse categories. Sources are labeled with traditional Statistical Abstract identifiers (e.g., “Table 1013”), which facilitates searching for users familiar with this format. Tables display as an image on the screen (rather than text), but can be downloaded to XLS format or non-searchable PDF. Download button is not easy to locate or identify. As with the printed publication, students may need help to locate data they need.

Authentication & Privacy

Access can be enabled via IP authentication. Username/password is possible.

Privacy Policy The site does not use PII unless offered by the user (when signing up for communication or registering for an account). Most transparent explanation of privacy practices (of the compared platforms).

Format Portability

View and/or download PDF, XLS

Cost

FTE tiers. Reasonable price for basic, credible government generated statistics collocated in single collection. Efficient search and retrieval of same data as printed source, but on screen display is non-interactive (same as printed) with option to download and manipulate data offline. Rating reflects pricing that is within range of online versions of other core, reliable single-sources reference products purchased by public community college libraries.

Other

Customer Service/Self: Very responsive, easy self-help options. Customization: Search and view options limited to tabular, non-interactive data (as in printed publication) but can be downloaded for offline manipulation by user. Citations: Citation generator for charts and tables, APA, MLA.

Rand State Statistics (Rand)

Overall ScoreContent — 40%Interface — 25%Cost — 15%Accessibility — 15%Support — 5%
3.65
5
5
3
3
3
3
2
2
3
3

Coverage

Expresses data from 200 US + 85 CA databases from approximately 110 US/Calif government and other reliable non-governmental data collectors (e.g., Kaiser Family Foundation). Coverage is current. The platform provides no interpretive analysis of the data.

Integration with Primo

Not discoverable in Primo.

Relevance

Content applicable to mostly social and political science disciplines and related fields; reliable government and other sources. Add-on packages for California and Texas include state-specific data not easily accessible elsewhere. Search/retrieval/display options not always intuitive; minimal online customer and technical support. Students may require assistance to search, identify, and select appropriate results.

Accessibility

No VPAT or accessibility statement on product website but vendor claims WCAG 2.0 level AA compliant at present, and will provide high level compliance in the future.

Usability

Users can use a search box or browse through “databases” (data sources). Search box leads to a list of “databases,” rather than results for viewing. Accessing information involves further “drilling down” and the choosing of variables. Information is presented as tables with flexible sorting. Highly customizable display options (e.g., select variables for graph) more appropriate for advanced users.

Authentication & Privacy

Access can be enabled via IP authentication. Username/password login is an option.

Privacy Policy The site does not use PII unless offered by the user (such as when registering for a personal account). Information is not shared with 3rd parties. It is easy to request removal of PII (if provided in the creation of a personal account).

Format Portability

View and/or download CSV, PNG, JPG, PDF, SVG vector

Cost

Flat FTE pricing (medium size college comparable to PQ Statistical Abstracts median price tier). Reasonable price for credible U.S. and California state government and non-governmental data not easy to locate in this collocation elsewhere. Search and retrieval interface basic with some interactive display options, not entirely intuitive, minimal or confusing online help.

Other

Customer Service/self-help: Harder to get answers, and self help options cursory, not great. Customization: Somewhat flexible online search and view options, but not always intuitive. Data can be downloaded for offline manipulation by users. Citations: Not provided/generated. Note: This platform had a “Date of Next Update” available for many of the sources, and a user could toggle on email alerts for updates.

Content Providers


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.

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