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Finding Social Science Data for Research

Selected data resources categorized by academic discipline

Start Your Search For Data Early

When looking for data, ask yourself these following questions:  

  • What are your goals and purposes?
  • What type of source can meet your research need? Datasets or aggregated statistics?
  • Who has gathered the information? Government agency? Research entity? A literature search can help!
  • When was the data collected?
  • What time frame does the data cover?
  • What geographic area is most appropriate for your research?
  • What geographic areas are available to you?
  • How was the data collected? Survey or administrative records?
  • How can you access the data?
  • Does your library subscribe to the source you need?

Navigating where to start to find and reuse data in your research can be a tricky process. Luckily, UT Libraries is here to help you! Feel free to reach out to our Data Services Team at dataservices@utk.edu .

It's ok to start with Google!

When starting your search, start with a search engine.

 

There is nothing wrong with searching Google or other search engines (DuckDuckGo, anyone?) for relevant data, just by trying some keywords (e.g., "incarceration rates in the US").  This will often surface some of the major sources of data, sometimes in the form of a press release.  It is important to dig further into the sources you find in order to look for complete, downloadable datasets.

There are an increasing number of search sites that offer up data directly, such as Data.gov (for open data released by US governmental agencies, sometimes in very raw form) and Datacite.org (providing a basic index to dataset that have received a Digital Object Identifier, often scholarly in nature).  These sites can sometimes producing an overwhelming number of hits on a general topic, so refine your search!

Once you have your topic narrowed down, it's easier to then go to subject specific data archives and resources!

 

Need help?

Need help getting started on a data search? Narrowing down your topic? Contact our data services team at dataservices@utk.edu and we'll be able to help!