A dataset (also spelled ‘data set’) is a collection of raw statistics and information generated by a research study. Datasets produced by government agencies or non-profit organizations can usually be downloaded free of charge. However, datasets developed by for-profit companies may be available for a fee.
Most datasets can be located by identifying the agency or organization that focuses on a specific research area of interest. For example, if you are interested in learning about public opinion on social issues, Pew Research Center would be a good place to look. For data about population, the U.S. government’s Population Estimates Program from American Factfinder would be a good source.
An “open data” philosophy is becoming more common among governments and business organizations around the world, with the belief that data should be freely accessible. Open data efforts have been led by both the government and non-government organizations such as the Open Knowledge Foundation. Learn more by exploring The Open Data Handbook. There is also a growing trend in what is being called “Big Data”, where extremely large amounts of data are analyzed for new and interesting perspectives, and data visualization, which is helping to drive the availability and accessibility of datasets and statistics.
Don't know where to begin? Here is a quick view of our recommendations.
|Data.gov||Repository||Public||U.S. Environment, Climate, Health, Government|
|Dept. of Education||Website||Public||Education, Educational Institutions|
|Google Dataset Search||Search Engine||Public||Multidisciplinary|
|Harvard Dataverse||Repository||Public||Multidisciplinary, *Social Sciences|
|ICPSR||Repository||3rd Party||Multidisciplinary, *Social Sciences|
|NCES||Repository||Public||Education, Educational Institutions|
|Pew Research Center||Website||Public||Social Science Demographics, Trends|
|Re3||Registry of Repositories||Public||n/a|
|Statista||Database||Subscription (provided by NU Library)||All, *Business|
* Indicates that datasets on this topic are prominent in the source
For additional information about locating statistics, please see our Statistics page.
Sources for statistics on hospitals and/or hospital spending.
A list of public datasets by topic, from the Society of General Internal Medicine.
Not sure where or how to start your data search? This webinar provides a basic overview of how to find datasets using Google Dataset Search and other dataset directories/repositories, and answer any questions you bring to the session.
Google Dataset Search is a search engine across metadata for millions of datasets in thousands of repositories across the Web. Similar to how Google Scholar works, Google Dataset Search lets you find datasets wherever they’re hosted, whether it’s a publisher's site, a digital library, or an author's personal web page.
Dataset Search can be useful to a broad audience, whether you're looking for scientific data, government data, or data provided by news organizations. Simply enter what you are looking for, and the results will guide you to the published dataset on the repository provider’s site.
Persistent links to datasets may be found by clicking on the share icon. You can may then copy/paste the link to share or save the location.
To find open data for a particular U.S. state or country, try using a search engine and the keywords: open data [name of state or country] , as shown in the image below.
Use the following steps to locate the actual dataset used in a research article within the ACM Digital Library database.
Use the following steps to locate the actual dataset used in a research article within the IEEE Xplore Digital Library database.