Skip to main content
Library Research Guides

Finding Data

Strategies and resources for finding data across the social sciences, including opinion surveys.

How was the data gathered?

It can be helpful to think about how the data you are interested in might have been gathered. There are two broad types of data collection:

Research

  • Data collected to answer a specific research question or in anticipation of the need for data to answer research questions and aid policy decisions
  • Example: American Time Use Survey, General Social Survey

Administrative or Procedural

  • Data collected during a procedural operation of an organization
  • Example: number of people receiving food stamps in Washtenaw County, amount spent on advertising by large tobacco firms

Who would collect this data?

Think about your data, including all of the specifics that you've come up with.

What organization or agency would likely collect this data?

Government

  • Generally free, may be on the internet, on CD-ROMs, in books
  • Data format varies widely
  • Collected through research to help aid policy decisions
  • Also collected through administrative processes as a result of work the government does
  • Examples: Federal level: Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Center for Disease Control,

Organizations

  • May be free or subscription/fee based
  • Data format varies widely
  • Collected through research to help aid policy decisions
  • Examples: World Health Organization, United Nations, OECD, World Bank

Data Archives

  • Usually subscription/fee based
  • Data generally available in formats like SPSS, SAS, Stata or Excel
  • Examples: ICPSR, Roper