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Library Subject Guides

1. Plan your Research: Sources of Existing Data

A guide for starting your research at University of Canterbury

Data in the wild

Evaluating datasets to see if they will help with your research can be very difficult.  How do you know that you can trust the data?  Sourcing it from governments or well known places is a good start.

Usually reliable data sources come from:

Other sources of data, like Figshare or Dryad are often used to store data that relate to a specific publication.  The problem with that may not be the reliability of the data, but that you may misunderstand what the data actually represents if it isn't documented well.  Be wary of datasets that do not include a lot of metadata describing it.

Data Examples

To see examples of how people are using open data, - a great source for NZ data - have set up a repository of existing data use:

How are people using open data

Awesome Public Datasets

The Awesome Public datasets collection is a group sourced list of, well, awesome public data.  This list is kept up to date, and assumed to be of high quality data, but if you have any questions about what you're looking at, remember your Subject Librarian is here to help.

Awesome Public Datasets

Economic and Social Science Data

So you are looking for data? Here are some sources at the UC library and the internet that can inspire you!

Being able to analyse data is an important skill, so the chance is high that at some point in your academic career you might be asked to analyse or find interesting data.  If you are in that situation and you need data for one of your courses or just you need some inspiration for an interesting research assignment, then here are some data sources that might help you

  1. Cross-Country Data on lots of topics
  1. Pew Surveys

Like Gallup, Pew regularly organizes surveys in several countries. Topics change from survey to survey and questions are included for example about online dating, parenting, life satisfaction or trust are. Individual level data can be downloaded for free!

  1. The Eurobarometer Survey

Interested in the EU? The Eurobarometer is a survey which interviews about 1000 individuals in the various EU countries (and candidate member countries).

“The standard modules ask for attitudes towards European unification, institutions and policies, complemented by measurements for general socio-political orientations, as well as by respondent and household demographics. Individual trends already count up to some 100 measurement points (e.g. general life satisfaction). Intermittently Eurobarometer extensively address special topics, such as environment, technology, health or family issues, social or ethnic exclusion etc”

Individual level data can be downloaded for free!

  1. The European Value Survey and the World Value Survey

The European Value Survey and the World Value Survey study ‘changing values and their impact on social and political life’ in a large number of countries. The World Value Survey has been implemented 6 times between 1981 and 2014,  the European  Value Survey 4 times between 1981 and 2008. Believe it or not, yes, the data are freely downloadable!

  1. The International Social Survey Program

An annual cross-country survey, with topics that vary from year to year. Includes surveys on the role of Government, Social Networks, Social Inequality, Family and Changing Gender Roles, Work Orientations, Religion, Environment, National Identity and more! All free!

  1. Official statistics can be found from the World Bank and the IMF

Have you already visited the World Bank’s Open Data archive – tons of country level ‘official statistics’ plus access to many surveys the World Bank has implemented via the World Bank’s Microdata archive.

  1. Global Company Data

If you need information about companies rather than people, then take a look at the covering 100 million listed and unlisted companies covered in the Orbis dataset, available via the UC library.

  1. Focused datasets

Remember data are everywhere! You can find surveys of children ‘s opinion, datasets about sports (like the football statisticians’ archives), data on the work of academics (Scopus , through the UC library) or archives with religious data – a Google search that combines your topic of interest with the word ‘statistics’ or ‘database’ might give you some interesting leads!

Plenty of Financial statistics can be found on the Bloomberg Terminals in the UC Business School trading room and on the other financial databases held at UC Library.

There are plenty of NZ and international statistical sources available.  And UC business school also has a room for access to NZ Stats’ Integrated Data Infrastructure which allows you to use all kinds of data collected by the NZ government.

You can find a list with all databases the UC library gives access to here.

  1. Create your own data

Finally, it’s also possible to create your own data! Why not run your own survey [for example. Using the free surveymonkey software], run your own experiment [some tips for running economics experiments can be found here] or why not, scrape data from the internet.

Contact Me For Help

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Anton Angelo
5th Floor
Puaka, James Hight
+64 3 369 3853 (x93853)
Subjects: Research