6

Conducting a research which needs governmental statistics, I have encountered a problem. The problem is I need to have precise data on farming in an area, but the data are not published.

I had to go to the relevant governmental office and convince them to provide me with the data. Afterwards, I had interviews with officials and they--based on their internal documents--provided me with the necessary detailed data.

Now I am thinking how to cite the information; I think the obtained data should be published, at least as a letter to the researcher, so that I can refer to it.

What I am going to do is that I give the obtained information to the department and ask them to check it for reliability, then they issue an official document containing the necessary approved information. However, the point is I am myself preparing the tables etc., so this is my work--the tables produced by hours and hours of interview and then extracting the info and then making tables based on it--not theirs although they will check it carefully.

What to you think? How should I deal with it?

  • 4
    You should inquire what the relevant laws say. Otherwise, you might get in trouble publishing governmental information. Usually there are fairly strict regulations for this kind of data. – skymningen Nov 29 '17 at 12:04
  • 6
    But there is a subtle difference between "use" as in "use to generate your own results from" and "use" as in "use as your own, including publishing the original data". (That's why we have so many GPL licenses and such.) – skymningen Nov 29 '17 at 12:26
  • 2
    To reword what @skymningen says - as I had told my team of (coincidentally, government-employed) analysts at the time, it's one thing to have possession of the data. It's another thing to actually be able to use it for your purposes. I would get a lawyer if I were you. There are some states (assuming U.S.) that have laws in terms of how their data are reported or used. – Clarinetist Nov 29 '17 at 12:47
  • 1
    @Juya how about you do it the other way: you get permission to use and publish the data THEN come back and ask about methodology... – Solar Mike Nov 29 '17 at 13:35
  • 2
    So what is your problem then? The permission to publish the data (if legally backed) will have specific rules about how you can or cannot do that. Anything that is allowed you can do. Anything that is not, you can't your question starts with the premise that you want them to pre-publish the data (letter to the researcher) under their name, but ends with you being unhappy with their plan to publish the data without your name on it as an official document. That is a contradiction we cannot solve for you. – skymningen Nov 29 '17 at 14:24
2

I would cite it as "Agency name, unpublished data" in the text. As a made-up example in a list of citations:

US Department of Agriculture, Farm Information Statistics 1999-2015, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA, unpublished.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.