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In an ideal world there would be a meta search engine for finding previously created data - but no such tool currently exists.
For now, there are different places and ways for storing datasets. Datasets can be found in publication supplements, in separate data publications, in subject specific repositories or in general-purpose repositories like Zenodo, Figshare or OSF.
Dataset search tools
CESSDA (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives)
An umbrella organisation for social science data archives across Europe. The CESSDA Catalogue provides access to research data from archives across Europe covering around 6000 studies distributed by members of the CESSDA European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). The Catalogue enables users to locate datasets, as well as questions or variables within datasets. Data collections include sociological surveys, election studies, longitudinal studies, opinion polls, and census data from the European Social Survey, Eurobarometer and the International Social Survey Programme.
CLOSER Discovery (Cohort and Longitudinal Studies Enhancement Resources)
CLOSER brings together leading UK longitudinal studies, the British Library and the UK Data Service. CLOSER Discovery is a search engine that enables searching and browsing questionnaires and data from the studies. Studies include: 1970 British Cohort Study; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children; Hertfordshire Cohort Study; Millennium Cohort Study; National Child Development Study; National Survey of Health and Development; Southampton Women’s Survey; Understanding Society; Wirral Child Health and Development Study.
How to guides and intro video at: https://discovery.closer.ac.uk/page/how-to-guides/6
Data Citation Index (DCI):
The DCI is integrated into the Web of Science and has a broad variety of search possibilities. It covers 350 repositories with 7 million records from various disciplines. It can also show usage and citation statistics for the datasets. You can choose to search DCI directly (choose from the 'Select a database' drop-down list) or run a search across all Web of Science databases and on the results screen, then filter the results by 'Associated Data'
Data Repositories (Open Access Directory)
A list of repositories and databases for open data - categorised by subject area
Datamed searches 75 large biomedical repositories. Right now there are 2.336.000 indexed datasets reported and many different ways to search for datasets are possible (e.g. for different topics, diseases, but also authors or organizations). It also features an API for programmatic access to the database.
Datasets with DataCite DOIs via British Library catalogue
You can search all datasets that have a DataCite DOI assigned by using the British Library's online catalogue:
- In the ‘Advanced search’, enter your search keywords
- Change the 'Material type' drop down list to 'Research datasets'
Dataverse is an open source web application to share, preserve, cite, explore, and analyze research data. It is a set of data repositories that are hosted locally at different institutions. There are around 3,000 local dataverses with a total of 80,000 searchable datasets (the majority of them belonging to the social sciences).
Dimensions is a research information system that has a free version covering datasets and publications. After running your search from the simple search box at the top of the screen, use the tabs above the results to choose ‘Datasets’. You can narrow your results using the filters on the left hand side menu.
Facebook Data for Independent Research
Facebook provides a variety of data sets for researchers:
Ad Library Tools: the Facebook Ad Library provides advertising transparency by offering a comprehensive, searchable collection of all ads currently running from across Facebook apps and services, including Instagram.
CrowdTangle: a public insights tool to follow, analyse and report on what’s happening across social media. It provides engagement metrics and analytics for public pages, public groups, verified profiles and public Instagram accounts. CrowdTangle can be used to see how often a link has been shared, who shared it and what they said.
Data for Good program: includes tools built from privacy-protected data on the Facebook platform, as well as tools developed using commercially and publicly available sources like satellite imagery and census data.
Facebook Open Research and Transparency (FORT) team: aims to enable the academic community to study the impact of Facebook with a particular focus on elections, democracy and well-being. The Condor URLs data set includes differentially private user-level counts of the number of people who viewed, clicked, liked, commented, shared, or reacted to any URL (with at least 100 public shares) on Facebook between January 2017 and July 2019. Counts are aggregated at the level of country, year-month, age bracket, gender, and for U.S. users, political page affinity. The data set is regularly updated to add additional year-months and countries.
Google Dataset search
Searches for datasets hosted in “thousands of repositories in the web” (although there doesn't appear to be a list of these). Currently in beta and doesn’t work well in Internet Explorer (version 11).
National Library of Scotland Data Foundry This link opens in a new window
Data collections from the National Library of Scotland. Includes digitised collections, metadata collections, maps. It is possible to download files for use in research.
National social science data services (Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives)
Extensive collections of data relevant to social and economic research. See pages 3 to 6 of this guide for a list of national social science data services in Europe.
A global registry of research data repositories. You can search by subject area, then filter results by resource type collected, country, etc.intended to help researchers find an appropriate repository for storing their data - could also be useful for finding relevant repositories to search for data.
UK Data Service/ UK Data Archive Service
The UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data resources. You need to register to use the service.
A search engine for data and statistics. Focuses on finding graphs, charts and tables on the Internet. In results - graphs, tables, etc.- can be previewed by mouse-hovering over the thumbnails. Free registration required to see the full work (only your email address required).
DataSTORRE is a digital repository of datasets produced at the University of Stirling.
Stirling researchers are asked to deposit their research datasets in DataSTORRE (note some funders also require you to make your data public or cite where your underlying data from publications can be accessed). See the DataSTORRE deposit guide.
Your dataset will be given a unique, persistent URL that you can use to cite your data in publications and on web sites.