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Social Sciences Data: Getting Started

This guide is a source for finding data to complete research projects and data analysis assignments

General Data Sources

Search Strategies

Government Websites:  use a Google domain search (e.g. to limit results to government sources, which are an abundant source for data.

Country Websites:  for international data search country specific websites using a Google domain search (e.g.

Professional Organizations, Non-profits, or Research Groups:  often these types of groups have a special interest in gathering and sharing data.  Try adding terms to your search like "association", "profession", "advocacy", "non-profit", or "research". 

Articles:  look for where articles or reports on your topic obtained data.  Is the data is available for free or purchase, or would it need to be collected on your own?

Browse:  find what is available and refine your topic idea by looking through available data in a large repository like UN Data or Library Databases with Data.

Specific Data Sources

Check out lists of websites and data sources for specific subjects related to your research question at state, national, and global levels.

  • Business:  Includes companies, finance, industry, marketing, real estate, and supply chain.
  • Economy:  Includes indicators, labor force, population, and trade.
  • Education:  Includes demographics, finances, outcomes, rankings, and scores.
  • Energy & Environment:  Includes agriculture, earth science, pollution, and weather.
  • Family & Society:  Includes attitudes, behaviors, census, demographic, religion, and time use.
  • Government & Politics:  Includes diplomacy, elections, finance, justice, and political parties.
  • Health & Medicine:  Includes access, finance, health factors and outcomes, and hospitals.
  • Religion & Family History: Includes historic demographics, world religions, and wellness.
  • Other:  Includes machine learning, sports, technology, and transportation.
  • Ready to Use:  Datasets that are already cleaned, reformatted, and ready to analyze.

Not sure where to start?

  • Try Google's Dataset Search
  • Browse topics in a large repository like UN Data
  • Search Google for data from the government, a great source for many different topics.  Just add your topic keywords to the beginning of the search below:
Google Web Search

What to Look For

Search features:  many data repositories have large numbers of datasets and usually include options to find what you are looking for such as a search bar, data finder/locator, or catalog.

Download buttons and wording:  look for tabs, headings, and buttons that indicate you can download or export the data to work with and analyze on your own

Format options:  make sure that data is in a format compatible with your preferred analysis program.  CSV is a good general format that can be imported into many applications.

Documentation and Codebooks:  most data sites will include information about how the data was collected and what each variable means.  This information is valuable in making accurate choices and conclusions as you clean and analyze data

Social Sciences Data Librarian

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Maggie Marchant
(801) 422-3924

Using Data

Visit the Data Guide for help cleaning, analyzing, managing & citing data.