Historical primary sources online: Analytical tools & data skills
Multipart guide to VT Libraries' many digital archives, whether based on types of sources or thematic collections.
Make sense of your data
This guide identifies online tools and learning resources for visualizing, interpreting data, and ethically using social data.
Tools for data analysis
- PolicyMapPolicy Map offers both extensive data and mapping options about communities across the US, especially for topics of interest for public policy. Data are aggregated from multiple sources and normalized to map across different geographical levels, from census tracts and ZIP codes to states. Data reports may be downloaded without maps. Policy Map also permits users to upload and map their own data. Focus is on information compiled since the early 2000s.
For data more oriented toward business and commercial activities, try SimplyAnalytics; for deeper historical coverage (necessarily with fewer variables), along with some non-US data/mapping options, try Social Explorer.
- SimplyAnalyticsSimplyAnalytics (formerly SimplyMap) is a web-based mapping application for non-technical as well as advanced users to create thematic maps and reports using a variety of US and Canadian data about characteristics of consumers, businesses, and markets. Sign is as Guest or with a personalized account. Data are aggregated from multiple sources and normalized to map across different geographical levels, from census blocks and ZIP codes up to states. Data reports may be downloaded without maps. Focus is on information compiled since the early 2000s.
For data more oriented to public policy questions, try PolicyMap; for deeper historical coverage (necessarily with fewer variables), along with some non-US data and mapping options, try Social Explorer.
- Social ExplorerSocial Explorer focuses on representing patterns in historical demographics of the United States since the first census in 1790. International coverage has less historical depth but includes recent census data from Canada and the UK, EuroStat's European Statistics, and the World Bank's World Development Indicators. The easy-to-use web interface lets users create maps and tables to illustrate, analyze, and understand demography and social change. In addition to its comprehensive data resources, Social Explorer offers features and tools to meet the needs of demography experts and novices alike.
Complements the broader but recent US coverage in PolicyMap for social policy and the US and Canadian coverage in SimplyAnalytics for business.
- StatsAmericaA very rich, free portal to US data, StatsAmerica includes tools to discover, interpret, map, and apply US economic and demographic data at many geographical levels. Design is oriented to needs of policy makers, social and economic researchers, and nonprofits. Data are downloadable. Includes guides and recorded training webinars. From Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University and funded in part by the US Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration..
- SuAVE: Survey Analysis via Visual ExplorationOnline tool for exploratory survey data analysis adn visualization. Project aims to make survey data easy to share online to explore collaboratively, and produces analyses that are accessible and understandable by non-experts. Begin analysis by creating/logging into a personal account. Tutorials include videos about conducting analyses and text instructions for formatting and publishing datasets in SuAVE.
- Tableau PublicPopular, free application for data visualization. Requires download and installation on your own computer. With a free personal profile, you can save, store, and share visualizations via social media.
- Data Consulting Lab (DCL)VT Libraries provide a limited number of computers loaded with specialized analytical applications that are not available through the internet (and may be expensive for individual purchase) -- along with consultants to help you gather, analyze, represent, and curate your data.
The DCL (Newman Library 3010, near the main elevators) provides STATA, R Studio, ARGGIS, ERDAS, among others.
Open hours depend on staffing and can vary by semester; to schedule a consultation or reserve time on a workstation email
or stop by. Some remote access can be reserved as times when the PCs are not in use.
Cite the data you use
- How to Cite Data (Michigan State)Comprehensive libguide from MSU Libraries provides general rules for data citation, with examples for citing datasets and tabular data in principal style manuals used in social science.
- Annotation for Transparent Inquiry (ATI) at a GlanceATI is a new approach to connecting readers of qualitative and mixed-methods research to the underlying data, such as those curated by the Qualitative Data Repository at Syracuse University. ATI facilitates transparency by allowing scholars to “annotate” specific passages in an article. Annotations amplify the text and, when possible, include a link to one or more data sources underlying a claim; data sources are housed in a repository. (VT's institutional membership in the QDR is provided by the University Libraries.)
Data analysis: reasoning and skills
How-to skills and quantitative literacies
- SAGE Research Methods OnlineAllows you to explore the concepts and mechanics of social research to design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct research, and write up your findings. With its focus on methodology rather than disciplines and sophisticated search options, SRMO can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more. Incorporates full-text content from over 720 books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and articles published by SAGE.. SRMO also incorporates specially commissioned instructional videos, sample cases, and practice datasets that illustrate the application of particular methodologies in quanttiative, qualitative, and computational research.
- Statistics Online Computational ResourceSOCR provides portable online aids for probability and statistics education, technology based instruction and statistical computing. SOCR tools and resources include a repository of interactive applets, computational and graphing tools, instructional and course materials. From UCLA.
- Numeracy Infusion Course for Higher EducationNICHE website is intended to provide a repository of resources and information for faculty from across the disciplines who are seeking to infuse numeracy (also known as quantitative literacy and quantitative reasoning) into their course instruction. Includes lengthy annotated directory, Internet Resources for Data Analysis. (Directory includes links to subscription resources that may not be available to Tech users, or that my require you first to search from the VT Libraries site.)
- ICPSR Videos on YouTubeClearinghouse of webinars about statistical methods in social and behavioral science, specialized data collections, technical advice, user advice, and events at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. (Virginia Tech is a member institution of ICPSR, entitling current members of the university to access data and receive feeddiscounts in some ICPSR training programs.)
Bringing together data, narrative, and visualization
- Storytelling with Data: A Resource Guide for Data JournalismA toolkit for anyone who wants to communicate evidence-based research to laypeople, this "project serves as a centralized place where journalism students learn basics of data journalism, from locating data sources and understanding data to visualizing and displaying data."
- DataJournalism.ComPortal to discussions of the use of data in the news media; online handbooks on using data to improve news coverage and on critical data practices. Related section of site includes free tutorials.
From the European Journalism Centre with support from Google.
- 20 Questions A Journalist Should Ask About Poll ResultsShort article is a great resource for thinking critically about the reliability of a poll, including funding, sampling, sources of error, and methodology.
- Exploring Data Visualization ApproachesHow-to webinar on basic principles of data visualization.
Data ethics and research transparency
- Data Ethics Framework for the Federal Government (PDF)Ethical tenets to "help [US] federal data users make decisions ethically and promote accountability throughout the data lifecycle—as data are acquired, processed, disseminated, used, stored and disposed." Developed by an interagency team and published by US General Services Administration in 2020 as part of the Federal Data Strategy .
- 5 Principles of data ethics for businessShort overview is directed specifically toward "business professionals who handle data," but applicable to nonprofit organizations and governments.
- Locus Charter: Founding PrinciplesGuidance for the ethical use of geospatial data: "The Locus Charter proposes that wider, shared understanding of risks and solutions relating to uses of location data can improve standards of practice, and help protect individuals and the public interest. We hope the Charter can improve understanding of risk, so those can be managed, and the many benefits of geospatial technologies can be realized for individuals and societies."
- Berkeley Initiative for Transparency in the Social Sciences: ResourcesSoftware, guidance, and tools to promote transparency in research, publication, replication, and meta-analysis.