A specific research question or topic of interest will allow better identification of a dataset for your needs.
When searching for datasets for your class project or research, it's important to first define your topic. Here are a few questions to consider when defining your topic.
The data sources included in this guide are mostly suitable for secondary data analysis (analysis of existing data that was collected by others). When looking for data, you might also want to consider:
For datasets, you can visit the public data sources (also referred to as open data) and subscription-based data sources, both of which are covered in this guide.
Also included in this guide are library databases to locate existing statistical analysis or reports. Often these reports and publications will cite the sources of the data used in the analysis. Note: not all of the data cited in the reports is accessible as public data or through library resources. Sometimes you may need to request permission to access the data. Other times the data may be proprietary and not accessible.
Many data sources include embedded tools that allow for filtering or visualization of the data. Some tools may aggregate different sources of data for further analysis. Take advantage of these tools by learning how to use them and leverage them for your research or project.
Per Merriam-Webster, data are "factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation;" they is also "information in digital form that can be transmitted or processed;" and also, "information output by a sensing device or organ that includes both useful and irrelevant or redundant information and must be processed to be meaningful."
The U.S. Federal Government defines research data as “the recorded factual material commonly accepted in the scientific community as necessary to validate research findings, but not the following: preliminary analyses, drafts of scientific papers, plans for future research, peer reviews or communications with colleagues. This “recorded” material excludes physical objects” (Code of Federal Regulations (2 CFR §215.36 (d)(2)(i))).
Data come in many types and many forms. The type of data is typically directed by the field of study.