With an increasing amount of data generated and made publicly available by researchers, governments, and other entities, there is more data available than ever before for reuse in new projects. This page provides general tips on finding data for reuse along with a number of places to look based on your discipline.
You can browse datasets available to UK researchers by subject on the Data Sources at UK guide.
Generalist repositories hold datasets from a variety of disciplines. Many of them enable searching within a specific discipline.
The data you need to access is shaped by the research question you want to answer, but data availability may require you to adjust your original inquiry. Starting with a broader question will give you more options of datasets to use, but your question may become more specific based on what data you are able to access. Bear in mind that the data available to you may not enable you to answer your question as you originally posed it, so be prepared for it to shift.
National, state, and local governments regularly produce a large variety of datasets, as do non-profits and researchers in all academic disciplines. If your research is squarely situated in a field, then discipline-specific repositories in that field may be helpful to you.
Data repositories with robust metadata and well-developed search systems can make it easy to discover datasets, but quality can vary greatly across repositories. If you are not able to find the data you are looking for through a repository's interface, try searching for journal articles or other publications on the topic and see if the authors provide a link to their data.
You may have identified data that would work well for your research but not be able to access it for a variety of reasons. Some possible scenarios include:
In any of these situations, consider contacting the researcher, publisher, or data repository. Check the listing page for the dataset or repository guidelines to see if there is any preferred method of contact. You may be required to verify that you will use the data for a valid research purpose or sign a data use agreement governing your access.
Not all datasets are of equal quality. As with any source, you should carefully evaluate datasets you plan to reuse in order to ensure that they are of high quality and relevant to your need. Use the criteria below to help you evaluate the datasets you find.
Authority: The source of the data.
Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the data.
Relevance: The importance of the data for your needs.
Currency: The timeliness of the information.
Purpose: The reason the information exists.
Adapted from Evaluating Information – Applying the CRAAP Test, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. http://www.csuchico.edu/lins/handouts/eval_websites.pdf