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Finding Social Science Data for Research

Selected data resources categorized by academic discipline

What is Secondary Data?

Secondary data is data that a researcher has not collected or created themselves.  Secondary data can encompass an enormous range of highly original and extensive studies, including some of the largest and most careful collections of data.

Secondary data are usually easily accessible to researchers and individuals because they are mostly shared publicly. This, however, means that the data are usually general and not tailored specifically to meet the researcher's needs as primary data does.

 This guide is a very quick introduction to locating secondary data sources.

When would you reuse data?

When would you reuse data?

There are many reasons why you may want to use existing data. Below are some examples of common reasons to reuse data: 

  • You need data collected by another agency, such as the U.S. Census Bureau or the United Nations Statistics Division
  • You want to supplement your own collected data with historical data on the same topic
  • You are hoping to replicate the results of a scientific study by re-analyzing their open data
  • You want to blend data from several sources to produce a holistic analysis of a topic

We are incredibly lucky to live during a time when the amount of available digital data is skyrocketing! Using existing data for research projects can help save time and money, and supports innovation within the scholarly community. For more information on the benefits of reusing data, please visit this resource: 

Open Knowledge Foundation