Not all data is good data. Not all sources are trustworthy. Not all research is reviewed. When looking for data to include in an infographic, there are several things to keep in mind.
An infographic is a visual content piece that presents complex ideas, data, or information in an easy-to-understand format. Infographics usually include charts, graphs, and other imagery to support an overarching theory or idea. The credibility of your content depends on selecting suitable sources for your infographic data.
Questions to Consider
You must make sure that the sources you base your infographic on are accurate and credible. If you submit infographics that could be flagged for incorrect information, your content may be removed from websites and social media pages, or you could receive penalties from search engines. It is crucial to consider the following:
Who or what organization is the source of the data? How does the public perceive them? How do experts in the industry perceive them? You do not want to quote someone with a bad reputation.
When was this data published? When was the data obtained? How much has changed since publication? Some information may be historical or timeless, which may not matter as much, but other data will need to be current to make your infographic relevant.
Is this source considered biased or objective? Do they have a reputation for manipulating information? An objective source is always best.
Depth of Research
How was the data collected? Is this part of an in-depth experiment or research project? Or was it taken from a tiny research pool? It is crucial to select information obtained through thorough research that can be well supported.
Purpose of Information
What was the purpose of the author or organization in publishing this information? Has it been obtained to educate? Or to manipulate perception? While many sources may not be strictly objective, the data or information should be presented in an educational manner.
Potential Data Sources
If you’re at a loss for where to find accurate, educational, well-researched, and credible data, here are great places to start:
In-House Company Data
Some companies have their own research resources. If your brand does its own studies, dip into that wealth of data and information. With this option, you can easily ask questions to the researchers themselves, providing clarity and credibility to your content creation. In-house company data is perfect to use for branded infographics, promotional content, company presentations and conferences, and industry trade shows.
All levels of government, as well as nonprofit organizations, have research divisions. It is likely that any area you wish to find data and information on will be covered in a government research study and backed up with credible facts and sources. The website Data.gov is an online data source open to all. You will find well-researched statistics about population, transportation, communication, and worldwide issues. Some other government-based data repositories include the Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Economic Research Service, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Center for Health Statistics, National Center for Educational Statistics, and many, many more.
Schools and Universities
Schools and universities are known for academic research and data. Many school databases are available and free to the public. You should be able to find studies and information on nearly every subject. School library systems may also have online catalogs that can be browsed from anywhere.
Google and Google Tools
Besides the obvious search engine, Google also offers public research tools. These include tools such as Google Analytics for analyzing your own company’s performance statistics, Google Trends to discover popular searches by demographic or location, and Google Scholar, which includes articles, data sets, and thesis papers.
Not all, but many news outlets are credible sources of information and statistics. Newspapers, radio, television, journals, and even podcasts may provide your organization with valuable data sets. News outlets conduct interviews with reputable sources, government officials, and company leaders. When gathering information from news organizations, it is best to take data straight from the source referenced rather than the news outlets themselves.
While researching from social media sites, you really must be careful about the information you pull. Social media sites do, however, allow organizations easy access to the public. Social media polls and trending Twitter hashtags can provide valuable information. While statistical data mined off of social sites must be checked thoroughly, looking into statistical and data hashtags may provide surprising results.
The sources you or your company choose for infographic data depend on the subject matter and content. Whichever resources you use, it is vital that all statistics, data, and sources are checked for accuracy, credibility, currency, specificity, and objectivity before publishing any new content.