Skip to content

Research Data Management: Discovering Data

Not enough time to collect your own data? Someone else's project may have generated data you can reuse. Or a national/international organisation may have an established programme for collection and distribution of data relating to your research interests.

On this page:

“Researchers increasingly conduct web searches to find research data. The success of such searches... depends to a large degree on the expertise of the person looking for data, the tools used, and, partially, on luck.”

Selected sources of research data

An aggregated data catalogue for the member data repositories in the Consortium of European Social Sciences Data Archives (including the ESRC-funded UK Data Service), containing over 20 000 records.  Search by keyword and filter by year or country of origin.  Not all datasets listed are available for re-use.

A searchable catalogue of datasets with a DOI (a stable digital ID) which have been harvested from repositories worldwide, including the UK's Digital Curation Centre, numerous scholarly societies and universities, plus self-deposit data repositories such as Dryad, Figshare and Mendeley Data.  You can filter results by year, resource type (e.g. image, software) or researcher's affiliation.

DataONE is a search engine to enable the discovery of data from multiple member repositories in the Earth and environmental sciences, mostly based in Europe and the USA.



Search the EDS Data Catalogue, or browse (by topic or region) for over 10 000 datasets and maps with an open licence, deposited by environmental scientists working in the UK and around the world.

"Similar to how Google Scholar works, 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". 

Note that to be indexed in Google's Dataset Search, the data provider needs to adopt Google's own schema for describing their content, which means search results will not necessarily be a complete picture of all relevant web content.  Non-visibility of known datasets in search results should not be taken as any indicator of quality or otherwise.

ICPSR Data Archive

The searchable data archive hosted by the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, comprising over 750 member organisations, based at the University of Michigan.  The archive holds over 250,000 research datasets in the social and behavioral sciences from around the globe, including specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism, and other fields.  You can filter search results by geography, format, collection method, time period and many more.

Data collections originating from the UK National Health Service.  Includes instructions for researchers making an application to access confidential data.

The UK Data Service is "the UK's largest collection of social, economic and population data resources", deposited by ESRC-funded researchers and national/international organisations.  Data is free to use on registration.

CLOSER Discovery is a searchable catalogue of British longitudinal studies preserved by the UKD Data Service and the British Library, including the 1970 British Cohort Study, the Millennium Cohort Study and the National Child Development Study.  Questionnaires are included alongside the data.

The UK Data Service SecureLab provides controlled access to data that are "too detailed, sensitive or confidential to be made available under the standard End User Licence or Special Licence". SecureLab data can be accessed from SafePods across the UK, or remotely from a desktop via the virtual Safe Room.  Analytical software is provided.

See the University of Hull's guide to Statistics collections, including subscribed economic, financial and marketing databases, plus free-to-access authoritative sources.

The Library's guide to citation styles includes examples of datasets and printed volumes of data in Harvard, Footnote, OSCOLA and APA formats.

Citing Data

The Library's guide to citation styles includes examples of citations to datasets and printed volumes of data in Harvard and Footnote formats.  See also the guides to APA referencing.