Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0929-9971
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9994
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The overall question this article addresses is, “How can information providers facilitate access to and understanding of their information by the general public?” The context of this investigation is the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We identify three kinds of barriers to finding and using statistical information: user understanding of data scope and availability, user understanding of statistical concepts, and a variety of conceptual and linguistic mismatches. We explore these barriers within three components of the BLS-user environment: communities of users, the scope of BLS information, and the relationship between the concepts and language of BLS and users. The resulting difficulties in information access and use are not unique to the BLS; they can occur any time that non-experts interact with an information-rich web site. The LABSTAT Crosswalk (LSC) is proposed as a solution to these problems, and we discuss its construction and some suggestions for its use. The paper concludes by discussing related problems and solutions, and points out the need for integrated help tools for end users.


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