How to start looking for data
1. Define the type of data you need
Consider what/who is being measured, where is it collected, when, and how often
What/Who: What is the unit of analysis relevant to your topic?
Where: Is the data specific to a specific geographic location (i.e. global, by state, regional, etc.)?
When: Is there a relevant time-period that data is collected from/for?
Frequency: How often is the data collected (annually, semi-annually)?
2. Searching for data
- Data that is collected by organisations and agencies that report will often be found in compendia or directly through that organisation's website.
- Data that is collected by individuals and researchers is sometimes available in data repositories.
3. List of databases and repositories (very limited list)
- EUR LibCal A-Z list of databases
- Erasmus Data Repository (EDR)
- List of data repositories all around the world
- Behavioural and Social Science data: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)
- Health indicators from the World Health Organization: Global Health Observatory data repository
4. What to keep in mind when using secondary data?
What type of license does it have?
Are you allowed to further share/publish the data?
Are you obliged to use the same license for the derivatives of the data?
Can you publish the materials created surrounding the data (query, analysis code, methodology)?
Here you can find a list of the different types of Creative Commons licenses and what they all mean.
Be aware that when buying databases, in most cases, they come with very restrictive licenses (you cannot share the data with other researchers or publicly) so make sure you know what you are allowed to do with the data. Additionally, just because data is available publicly does not mean that it can be freely used and/or shared. As a general rule, if there is no license, you cannot use the data.
For questions relating the license of a database (or dataset) you intent to use, please contact the legal counsel of your faculty.
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