The explosion of free, accessible quantitative data on the internet is radically shifting the way we research and share information.
Under the Obama administration, via the portal data.gov, the federal government is making its research findings available to the public in agriculture, business, energy, national security, earth and life sciences, and much more. Additionally, scholars and universities are becoming increasingly free with their research findings, depositing raw data into institutional repositories and publishing their findings in the burgeoning open-access publishing arena.
The federal government, academia, and industry are now gathering their forces to meet a growing demand for skilled data scientists across the spectrum of industries to collect, process, communicate, and think critically about the implications of the data available to them. Those with the highest levels of skill in this area will have access to job opportunities in their careers of choice. To begin fostering this skill, students must be information literate.
Critical thinking about statistics—and the ways they are communicated—is a vital component of information literacy. We are now awash in quantitative data and data analysis. Whether in scholarly journals, on T.V. news, or via Facebook newsfeeds, statistics have become an important mode of communication, informing public policy, journalism, and often viral misinformation. Those who can understand these communications—rather than merely consume them—will have the skills to make informed choices as engaged students, professionals, and citizens.
I hope this guide will serve as a starting point for students and faculty to find, use, analyze, and communicate statistical data. I welcome your comments. Please contact me through my profile information to the left.