Guide to Data: Find Data
When you need data, you have two option: find and reuse a dataset, or collect your own. To find data, you might first ask yourself:
What kind of data do I need? Under what parameters (time, size, population, etc.)?
Once you can describe what data you're looking for, ask: who would collect this kind of data? Local, state, or federal government? Businesses and organizations? Scholars and researchers?
When you know what you're looking for and who might hold the data, you can begin to search. Google is an excellent starting place.
A search for your topic + data (i.e.: smokers by state and age data, child poverty over time data) may bring up obvious sources.
Alternatively, you might read an article or book that shows a data visualization or mentions a statistic. Look for the relevant dataset citation in their references, then locate that dataset using Google or one of the library databases.
Discipline-specific data sources are listed in the drop-down menu for this page.
Feeling stuck? Not sure how to get started? Contact your liaison librarian for assistance!
General Data Repositories
The list of data repositories below is not exhaustive. Some are fully open, and others require GVSU affiliation. To find disciplinary-specific repositories for areas like humanities, business, and education, select the drop-down menu on the page for Find Data.
A Note on Language
When you look for data, you might find that common search terms that help locate relevant sources may not be the same terms you use in your study and research. These terms (used in headers, titles and descriptions of sources) may carry different connotations to different groups and may not be the most respectful or accurate choices, particularly in the case of historical data. When presenting your research, you get to decide what terms to use and how to define them.