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How to Find Local Data And Statistics

How to Find Local Data And Statistics

Using a Search Engine

The first place to go when looking for data for your grant proposal is to go to a search engine, that is, a web page which allows you to search the world wide web. One such engine is called "Google" and you can find it at www.google.com. Once you find an engine you wish to use, you will need to decide what to type into the "search" box. Try typing in the subject of information you need followed by the word data or statistics. For example, if you are staring a mentoring program for teenage girls and would like to find information about the number of teen girls who become pregnant each year, type in teen pregnancy statistics, or teen pregnancy data. If you would like statistics for a specific geographical region, such as your state or your city, you can also add the name of that region in the list of words you type in, such as Charlotte juvenile crime statistics or Albemarle County substance abuse data.

Punctuation

Commas and quotation marks can be used to give specific instructions to the Google search engine (and this is true of most other search engines as well). When you type in a list of words as mentioned above, the engine will search for documents containing all of those words. But those words may be scattered anywhere in the document and they may be in any order. If you wish to search for a specific phrase of words you should add quotation marks around the phrase such as "teen drug abuse" as this will find documents with exactly those words found next to each other in exactly that order. Using quotation marks can have advantages and disadvantages. If you just type in teen drug abuse without any quotation marks, you run the risk of the search engine finding a page of newspaper articles where one article talks about a summer camp for teens and a separate article talks about a new drug rehabilitation center in the city but no articles talk about teens who use drugs. However, if you do include the quotation marks and search for "teen drug abuse" you may not catch a report entitled "Drug Abuse Among Teenagers" because the exact words "teen drug abuse" never appear as that exact phrase in the document.

Commas are a bit different. Whereas quotation marks refine a search, commas expand a search. As we said above, if you searched for teen drug abuse, then the engine would find documents that contained the word "teen," the word "drug," and the word "abuse." If, however, you were to search for teen, drug, abuse the engine would find documents that contained all of these words as before but also documents that only had the word "teen" in them, even if "drug" and "abuse" were not in the document. So by searching for teen, drug, abuse you will find not only pages about teenage substance abuse but also teenage pregnancy, teen ministries, teen chat rooms, etc.