A dataset (also spelled ‘data set’) is a collection of raw statistics and information generated by a research study. Datasets produced by government agencies or non-profit organizations can usually be downloaded free of charge. However, datasets developed by for-profit companies may be available for a fee.
Most datasets can be located by identifying the agency or organization that focuses on a specific research area of interest. For example, if you are interested in learning about public opinion on social issues, Pew Research Center would be a good place to look. For data about population, the U.S. government’s Population Estimates Program from American Factfinder would be a good source.
An “open data” philosophy is becoming more common among governments and business organizations around the world, with the belief that data should be freely accessible. Open data efforts have been led by both the government and non-government organizations such as the Open Knowledge Foundation. Learn more by exploring The Open Data Handbook. There is also a growing trend in what is being called “Big Data”, where extremely large amounts of data are analyzed for new and interesting perspectives, and data visualization, which is helping to drive the availability and accessibility of datasets and statistics.
Searching for Datasets
To find open data for a particular U.S. state or country, try using a search engine and the keywords: open data [name of state or country] , as shown in the image below:
For additional information about locating statistics, please see our Finding Statistics page.
For information about citing data sets, please see this post from the APA Style Blog: How to Cite a Data Set in APA Style
NCU Library Subscribed Databases
Euromonitor - provides business intelligence on industries, market data & forecasts, and consumer lifestyles from over 200 countries. Retrieve international market research data, including reports on specific products, industries, and companies. Statistical data is available for export to Excel or manipulated into visual images. Learn more by viewing Euromonitor Help Videos.
Mergent Online - Provides detailed financial records for company research, including up to 15 years of historical data. Also provides varied reporting options, including company and industry comparisons. Full-text available. Company financials are available for export to Excel.
Large Open Access Datasets - The following government, agency and organizational websites are a great source of reliable data sets.
American Fact Finder - A division of the US Census Bureau, this site provides datasets from censuses and surveys conducted by the Bureau.
Africa Open Data - Search and download more than 900 datasets from countries across the continent. File formats are available in csv, zip and shapefile (shp) for use with GIS software.
Data.gov - The gateway to searching and discovering U.S. government data. This sites boasts over 90,000 datasets!
Data.gov.uk - Search over 17,000 datasets from the government of the United Kingdom. This database allows for limiting search results by theme (subject), format (file type) and publisher.
European Union Open Data Portal - Gateway to data produced by EU member institutions.The homepage features most viewed datasets, as well as updated datasets and top publishers (agencies/institutions). Most datasets can be downloaded in pdf or zip formats.
National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) - A division of the U.K. National Archives, these datasets are from 1997-2010. Fully searchable and can be downloaded in html, csv, xls, and more.
Open Data Canada - Search and download datasets in different formats (csv, xml, zip, html). Featured datasets are also available across a wide range of categories.
United Nations Data - The gateway to data and statistics for UN supported projects, including the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics. To learn how to best use this resource, see these FAQs. Also see UN Statistical Databases for more datasets.
The World Bank - Datasets can be browsed and searched across a wide range of indicators and categories. Download options are available from basic to advanced. View the World Bank Databank tutorial to learn more about how to use and download datasets.
General Social Survey (GSS) - A social trends survey conducted on American society and compared to international trends. This survey has been unchanged since 1972. datasets are in SPSS and STATA formats, with additional options available.
International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) - Affiliated with the GSS, this survey has been conducted since 1980.
The Latin American Databank - Provides a portal for Latin American datasets acquired, processed and archives by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research. Data can be browsed by country or decade. Keyword search options are also available.
Pew Research Center - Datasets available to download for many of the Center’s main projects. Free registration is required to download.
Roper Center Public Opinion Archives - Over 20,000 datasets available from 1935 to present. Users can also set up an RSS feed for updates.
World Values Survey - Datasets available to download for surveys dating back to 1981 in SPSS, SAS and STATA formats.
Datacatalogs.org - This site provides a browseable or searchable of open data catalogs around the world, including government and non-government sources.
Datacite - A repository of open datasets that are available online. Links to the dataset homepage are available along with the associated subjects, publisher (authority) and description.
Google Public Data - Freely available tool for searching public datasets.Importing, saving and linking tools are also available. See more from Google Public Data Help.
Harvard Dataverse Network - An open network of research and scientific data containing over 50,000 studies.
Damodaran Online: Corporate Finance and Valuation (NYU, Stern School of Business, Dr. Aswath Damodaran)
International Monetary Fund Data & Statistics
Fiscal Rules Dataset (1985-2013)National Longitudinal Surveys (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Statistics
Quandl - “Time-series” numerical only data for economics, finance, markets & energy; Features step-by-step wizard for finding and compiling data
Statistical Abstract of the United States (2012): Banking, Finance, & Insurance
Statistical Abstract of the United States (2012): Business Enterprise
Surveys of Consumers (Thomson Reuters & University of Michigan)
U. S. Bureau of Economic Data
Barro-Lee Dataset - Datasets available for download from their article: Barro, R., & Lee, J. (n.d). A new dataset of educational attainment in the world, 1950-2010. Journal Of Development Economics,104,184-198.
Child care and Early Education Research Connections
Datasets from NCES - (Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, Dr. John Willett)
Education Data.gov (U.S.)
Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS) Series
Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System
National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
Statistical Abstract of the United States (2012): Education
U.K. Department of Education Datasets
American Psychological Association - Links to datasets and Repositories
Children Born to Unwed Parents between 1998-2000 (Princeton)
Chidstats.gov (Forum on Child and Family Statistics)
Gender & Achievement Research Program
The Kinsey Institute Data Archives
National Archive of Criminal Justice Data
National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect
National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health)
Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF) Data Federation
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHA)
General Social Sciences
Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA)
Gapminder - A non-profit organization that calls itself a “fact tank”. More than 500 world demographic indicators from the World Bank, Lancet and many other entities are available for download in Excel format, view or visualize
Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research(ICPSR) - One of the largest collections of data for social and behavioral research. File formats include SPSS, SAS and csv.
National Archive on Criminal Justice Data
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) - Extensive tutorials are available to assist users with learning how to incorporate NCHS data into their research.
The Odum Institute Dataverse (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill)
U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(HUD)
U.K. Data Service - sponsored by the U.K. Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)
Datasets for Learning Purposes
Kaggle - This for-profit company offers data forecasting services for the energy industry, also maintains a platform for “predictive modeling competitions”. Get a team together and challenge yourselves to compete!
Statistical Reference Datasets (National Institute for Standards & Technology)
Statistics for Psychology (University of Bath, Dept. of Psychology, Dr. Ian Walker)
SPSS Data Sets (Butler University, Dept. of Psychology, Dr. Roger J. Padgett)
SPSS Data Page (East Carolina University, Dept. of Psychology, Dr. Karl L. Wuensch)
Sociology Data Set Server (St. Joseph’s University, Dept. of Sociology)
Teaching with Data - While this site does not have datasets to download, they have excellent resources for locating datasets and other tools for using data in education
UCI Machine Learning Repository - Used primarily for the computer sciences, a number of social sciences datasets are available here. Each dataset has cited references.
The Facebook Project
The Association of Religion Archives
The Guardian (UK) Datablog
Public Data Sets (Amazon Web Services)- Notable sets include the NASA Nex Project and 1000 Genome Project
Social Computing Data Repository - Arizona State University collects and makes available for download datasets from the most popular social networks including Twitter, FourSquare, YouTube and more.
Stanford Large Network Dataset Collection - Features data from social networks, online reviews and more.
Open-access Tools for Data Analysis
The National Map - This website provides datasets for representing U. S. government data using various map tools. Maps include: The National Atlas of the United States, U.S. Topo, Historical Topographic Map Collection, and the National Map Viewer.
Nesstar (Norwegian Social Science Data Services) - An open access, web-based tool for publishing and analyzing data
OpenRefine - Formerly Google Refine, this free tool allows intermediate to advanced level users multiple options for managing large datasets.
Social Explorer - This tool allows users to manipulate data from demographic and economic sources to create their own maps, interactive images, and more. The limited free version provides access to data from the 2000 US Census.
Statwing - A limited free tool to analyze and visualize data. (Note:The free version makes your data available publicly up to 25mb.)
TableauPublic- A free tool for visualizing data in a wide variety of design options
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