Objectivity & Purpose
Collection Methods & Completeness
Consistency / Verification
To fully understand your data, what it can tell you, and how much it will strengthen your argument, look in the following places.
Note: some data will be much easier to research than others, and not all three suggestions above will apply to all datasets.
Find the website of the institution that creates, disseminates, or hosts the data you are using and look for documentation in the form of:
These types of publications will give you the following information about your data (and much more):
Use the following indexes to search for research articles that use the data you're researching. Three main kinds of searches will help you:
1. With large surveys, it is often the case that the web site where they are hosted will also contain a bibliography of research that is about or uses that data. Look for these on the project web sites for the data.
2. ICPSR maintains a Bibliography of Data Related Literature, which you can search from their web site.
3. Often, topical entries in subject encyclopedias will have sections on data. For example the entry for Recidivism in the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice has a discussion of data commonly used to measure recidivism.
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