Search tip #8: Finding data for my thesis or research project

Published on
November 5, 2019

Ever wondered if somebody has created a dataset that you can use for your thesis or project? Or if data is already available from a similar experiment? You can save time and resources if you find data that you can (re)use.

What is data?

With all the interesting research being done, not only are papers being published, but also datasets. Research data consists of anything you collect, observe, create, and analyze for your research. This can vary from models, scripts, specimens, field notebooks, audio files, videos, questionnaire responses, interview transcripts to sequencing data.

Where to find data?

Nowadays publishers and funders require researchers to deposit a paper's data in a permanent data repository with open access. Once deposited, the data can be found by using literature, data repositories, or indexes of datasets.

A good source to find a data repository with data in your field is On the homepage you can type your topic in the search field. If using multiple words, place them between double quotation marks (“..”) for a phrase search. The results will show data repositories with data on your topic. Using the toolbar, you can select ‘Browse’ and ‘Browse by Subject’, where you can browse from general to more specific subjects. For additional information on data searching and data repositories, check the e-learning module ‘Finding research data’.

Citing data

Always remember to cite the dataset's source when it in your thesis or manuscript. The citation should include the creator(s), year, title, repository, and persistent identifier (usually a doi). Currently, there is no standard format for referencing datasets. You can follow your referencing style, journal guidelines/requirements, or guidelines from the repository. Remember to include datasets in the reference list at the end of your text to properly credit the data's creator.

Do you have questions about finding data? Please email us.