Ereviews: Statista | January 2012

ljx120101refbonnie Ereviews: Statista | January 2012Statista
Statista; www.statista.com

Content Statista is a sleek database aggregating statistics and data sets from an impressive variety of fields. Information is grouped into 20 main categories covering topics such as advertising, tele communications, chemicals, energy, education, consumer goods, e-commerce, banking, health care, retail, demographics, sports, transportation, and tourism. With just a few clicks, users can learn about, for example, the top-selling recording artists in the United States from 1991 to 2010 (Garth Brooks is number one) and the unemployment rate in India in 2005 (4.40 percent).

Statista Inc. is a German company, and its array of international statistics is impressive. European information is plentiful, as well as data on economically prominent countries such as India and China. Numbers are also available on developing nations, but these are not as easy to find.

The data are pulled from a wide variety of sources, some of which‚ the World Bank (the source of the India unemployment data, for instance), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Pew Research Center, and the IMF‚ offer the same data free online. Unregistered users can search Statista’s website for free to discover the availability of some relevant data sets, but a link to the source is available only to subscribers. Sources are well documented, and metadata includes the name of the organization conducting the survey and additional tags to enable better searching. The Statista website is much more user-friendly than most of the government and NGO websites from which the material comes, but the difficulty of using those sites can be circumvented by using search engines.

Another subset of the database’s offerings (such as the facts concerning top recording artists) comes from proprietary sources, and Statista typically links to a press release announcing its availability. Some figures are normally announced in the press release, but Statista includes more information than is typically available.

Usability Statista’s material can be accessed by searching or by browsing. The search interface is simple, with a single box for queries (there is no advanced search screen). The search defaults to a Boolean AND; other Boolean operators are not supported. Statista provides help in the form of an FAQ, but it includes limited search assistance.

As terms are typed, a list of suggestions appears, in a manner that will be familiar to Google users. Once a search is complete, patrons may limit the results based upon several parameters, including date, region, category, nature of the data (time series, ranking, etc.), whether it is available for free from Statista, and by language (English or German). A search for unemployment yields more than 170 results, but limiting to Asia Only returns just three: unemployment statistics for China, Japan, and India.

It would be convenient to set these limits before a search is executed. Although the page reloads quickly, limits must be applied one at a time, slowing the work. Results can be sorted by date or by relevance and displayed in groups of ten, 20, 50, or 100, but the total number of results is not displayed.

Users can also browse the datasets in several ways. The homepage offers direct access to recent statistics and the most popular findings in each category. Patrons can also browse each of the 20 headings, exploring subtopics and popular data sets within them. On each subject category page, researchers have the opportunity to perform a query limited to that subject.

Clicking on the title of a data set brings up an animated graph of the results‚ bar graphs grow like trees, and line graphs snake across the screen. Most sets can be displayed in multiple graphical formats and as tables.

Opportunities for reuse depend on whether Statista makes the material available for free. Links to popular bookmarking services allow users to easily bookmark and share statistics that the company offers for free, and quick links allow posting to Twitter and Facebook. Patrons will enjoy the ease of informing others that, for example, Nutella was the brand with the largest number of Facebook fans in April 2010.

Subscribers can easily download the graphs as JPEG images, PowerPoint files, or Excel spreadsheets. The PowerPoint files include a variety of representations of the data. Exporting to Excel is a wonderful feature, allowing users to perform their own analysis and create their own graphs if necessary. No download options are available for nonsubscribed users.

Each page of data links to relevant data sets and categories, making it is easy to explore related information. A page about worldwide smartphone sales from 2007 to 2010, for instance, includes quick links to information on U.S. smartphone sales, iPhone sales, and global market share of handsets.

Pricing Fees are based on institution size. For institutions with fewer than 5000 students, monthly subscriptions cost $133 and annual subscriptions, $1600. The largest institutions, of 60,000 students, will pay $1170 monthly and $14,040 annually. Statista is offering a 25 percent discount on monthly and annual subscription prices until June 2012. Research assistance is also available for an extra fee.

Bottom Line Statista’s interface is elegant and incredibly user-friendly, especially in comparison to some sources of free statistics. Since much of the information is available free from other sources, however, a subscription to this database will have to be carefully considered where budgets are tight. Still, institutions that choose to purchase the product will find that it will quickly become the number one source for reference questions that begin with I need statistics on‚Ķ.

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog. Readers can contact her at swoger@geneseo.edu

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Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, undergraduatesciencelibrarian.org. Readers can contact her at swoger@geneseo.edu.

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