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Data Literacy - Datasets: Find

Search strategies and resources

A Bit about Datasets Online

How to Begin
  1. Identify what you need - think about the disciplines it might be in, the time frame you need (current or historical or both), and the location (US, international, local, etc.)
    • Data take time - some come out once every 10 years (census data), some may be more than a year old
    • Be flexible - published datasets with the exact variables you need may not exist (you can try contacting the agency)
  2. Identify who might collect, publish, or focus on a specific research area of interest - and search their sites 
    • Government Agencies: free and publicly available
    • Non-Government Organizations: independent, noncommercial, and nonprofit organizations might be freely available online
    • Academic Institutions: funded by public or private foundations might be freely available online
    • Private Sector Commercial Firms: collect and publish datasets as a paid service
  3. Search library resources (more info in the box on the right)
  4. General Search Engines (more info in the box on the right)
  5. Ask a Librarian!
What is Open Data?

"Open Data is research data that is freely available on the internet permitting any user to download, copy, analyse, re-process, pass to software or use for any purpose without financial, legal, or technological barriers..."

- Definition from SPARC

Search Strategies

  • Some libraries subscribe to dataset databases - check our collections (See UIW databases - filter by content type or discipline)
  • Find an article, and track down any reported sources - see if it is available in an open data resource
  • You may find a gap in the research - be flexible
  • Use any of the advanced features to help find datasets - including file type (like csv)
  • Add datasets or open data to your search terms
  • Target specific websites or domains
    • keywords site:Website Domain
      Example: education datasets
      Will find government websites that have or mention education datasets
    • keywords site:URL (main URL web address stripped of http and www)
      Example: population dataset
      Will find pages on population datasets from the United Nations website
  • Remember to think about who might collect or publish the datasets you want
  • Search like other search engines, but you don't need to include terms like "open data" or dataset in your search
  • Keep it simple
  • Once you hit enter on your first search, use the filters at the top
    • Use the Free filter to get to free datasets
    • Keep in mind that there will be errors - just because it's tagged as free, doesn't mean it is free
  • This doesn't have everything - this is just one more tool available.

About this Guide

This guide is meant to help you find data and increase your data literacy.  It is not a comprehensive list of all data available online.

For more data- check the UIW Libraries' LibGuides - check under the specific discipline.

Thanks to Marymount University Library and Learning Services for permission to adapt their LibGuide as the basis for this one.
"Statistics and Datasets" by Marymount University Library and Learning Services
Staff LADR