Before Looking for Data
Data and statistics are primary sources used as evidence, background information, or context for a topic.
Questions to ask yourself before searching for data sets or statistics:
- What data do I need to answer my research question?
- What are my variables?
- What is my time frame and geographic area?
Strategies for Finding Data:
Data Archives & Repositories
Producers of Data
Once you have identified a producer or creator, use a search engine to check if they’ve made the data you need available online.
- Individuals or groups of researchers
- Colleges, universities, research organizations
- Public and/or private companies
- Non-governmental organizations (foundations, think-tanks, charities, non-profits)
- U.S. government agencies, international government agencies, state and/or local government agencies
- Data are often linked directly to or cited in discipline-specific research publications.
- Search for research studies utilizing primary or secondary analyses to see if the data are publicly available.
- Try contacting the author(s) of a published study and see if they would be willing to share their data with you.
These guides from other university libraries provide search strategies and sources of data online.