Getting Started: Terminology Basics

Data vs. Statistics

In the world of academic research, there is an important distinction between data and statistics.

Data are the raw ingredients from which statistics are created. 

Statistics provide an interpretation or summary of the data.


Raw data is the direct result of research that was conducted as part of a study or survey.  It is a primary source and it usually comes in the form of a digital data set like this:

Example of data using a 2021 Canadian Community Health Survey dataset

If you want to explore, extract, and analyze data, use Odesi.  This web-based tool will give you access to variables across hundreds of datasets.

The Statistics by Subject (A-Z) section of this guide will also give you direct access to key data collections in Odesi.


Statistics are the result of data analysis.  Statistics provide an interpretation or summary of the data.

Statistics usually come in the form of a table or chart:

Statistics example using Average earnings by sex and work pattern

The Statistics Canada and Statistics by Subject (A-Z) sections of this guide will give you direct access to key Canadian and international resources.

If you would like more information on how to understand statistics and data, try these resources:

Reading and Writing Statistics

How to Evaluate Bad Statistics and Research Methods

Graph Types – Statistics Canada  (Describes different types of graphs and when to use them.)

Joy of Stats video  (Award-winning one-hour video from the dynamic and inspiring Hans Rosling.  For a small taste, watch “200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes”. provides free graphs and bubble maps on a variety of topics.)