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The need for accurate information in order to make informed decisions is emphasized throughout this online publication (see the section on Data, information and statistics). Statistics are an important type of information and statistical agencies play an important part in producing such information. In order to do this, the agencies conduct censuses and sample surveys and use administrative records. These three types of data collection, along with their advantages and disadvantages, are explained in the Data collection section.
The present section focuses on sampling and on estimation (which is the process of taking information gathered from a sample and extending it to the whole population).